The Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition is a group of individuals, non-profits, financial institutions, and government agencies, working to provide free tax preparation and filing as well as financial literacy resources specifically targeted for low and moderate-income households of Lorain County, Ohio, including seniors. As an alternative to paid tax preparers who may assess filing fees and offer other high-cost services, the Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition partners with the Lorain County Volunteer Connection (LCVC) to recruit and train IRS certified volunteer tax preparers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program, and the Ohio Benefit Bank.

Families and Individuals who made $60,000 or less in 2017 are, in general, able to connect to VITA free tax preparation services. There are some limitations — income from rental property, for example, is beyond the reach of our services. If you have a higher income or additional circumstances, you could qualify for other free programs, such as those operated by AARP or Ohio Benefit Bank. Call 2-1-1 for more information.

Low- and Moderate-Income individuals and households can avoid the sometimes costly fees associated with paid preparers by utilizing one of the Coalition’s many FREE tax preparation sites located throughout Lorain County.  To take advantage of this FREE tax filing service, contact 2-1-1 to have your questions answered and be scheduled for an appointment at the appropriate location.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), enacted by Congress in 1975, is a refundable tax credit that increases the income of low-and-moderate income working families through the provision of tax reductions and wage supplements. The program’s primary purpose is to aid employed workers in achieving and maintaining their independence from welfare by making work more attractive.

The EITC has been widely praised for its effectiveness in reducing poverty and has been instrumental in closing the poverty gap for the country’s working poor. Since low-income families pay little or no Federal income taxes, the refunds received represent increases in income, not reductions in taxes owed, providing a greater level of support. The EITC is designed to fill a gap between what can be earned in the labor market and what is required to meet household needs.

In 2010, across the country, the EITC lifted about 6.3 million people out of poverty. It is estimated 20% of those eligible do not claim this valuable credit thus creating the need for innovative outreach strategies and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs. VITA programs help low-income, working families make their way through the tax code, claiming the full amount of any tax refund for which they are qualified. Without VITA help, many struggling households will turn to the help of commercial tax preparers who charge fees in excess of $270. Last year alone more than 1,900 returns were filed through the VITA program in Lorain County, saving residents over $510,000 in filing/service fees.