Wallace to offer free tax preparation services

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, January 25, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Wallace Community College Selma is partnering with Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst Program to provide free tax services for residents of the state.

The services will be offered Feb. 3, Feb. 17 and March 3 in room 101 of the Administration Building.

The partnership is designed to help eligible working families set up their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). According to Hannah Spivey, program officer at Impact Alabama, the EITC is the federal government’s largest program for low-income, working families.

Working families with children are eligible for the tax preparations if they make $54,000 or less, while working families without children are eligible if they make $20,000 or less.

Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst Program provides this service to people who would likely otherwise pay expensive fees to commercial tax preparers. This in turn decreases the wealth of these families even if they do become eligible for the EITC. According to Spivey, low-income families are targets for commercial tax preparers, knowing that many of them do not have any other option.

“There is an industry of predatory tax businesses across the state,” Spivey said. “They set up in low-income areas to take advantage of the people who need some help with their taxes. They charge high rates for setting up the EITC, even though it is not too complicated.”

In 2017, Impact Alabama helped around 9,000 working families secure over $15.6 million in tax refunds, with over $3.6 million saved that would have otherwise been spent on commercial tax preparation fees. Since 2006, the program has prepared almost 59,000 free tax returns for the residents of Alabama.

An AmeriCorps program, Impact Alabama’ SaveFirst initiative has 591 college student volunteers from 21 campuses. Each of these volunteers is trained to assist families in need of the EITC.

Using trained college students not only gives them hands-on experience with taxes, but also encourages them get involved with meaningful causes.

“This initiative helps college students be engaged in their community,” Spivey said. “It introduces them to new people while helping working families.”

Impact Alabama conducts much of their work in partnership with their location at the University of Alabama. UA’s Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility houses Impact Alabama and also provides them with students and services to help with their initiatives.

Along with the Selma location, Montgomery will host two locations for free tax services.

Tax preparations in Montgomery are available at the Leo J. Drum Theater at Huntington Community College and at the Rufus A. Lewis Library.

To schedule a free appointment, call 1-888-99-TAX-AL. For more information regarding Impact Alabama or their free tax returns, visit their website at www.impactamerica.com/free-tax-services.