Free tax prep services offered

SCOPE, TCAP provide help to everyone

For the second year, the Trumbull County Partnership for Financial Empowerment, a United Way initiative, in partnership with SCOPE, TCAP and the Emmanuel House, is offering free tax preparation at six locations throughout Trumbull County.

“We recognized that people were often paying a couple hundred dollars for tax preparation, and offering free tax sites will benefit individuals and families in Trumbull County,” said Melissa Maki, marketing director of the Middlefield Banking Company and a member of the Untied Way Board of Directors.

Maki said research has shown, on average, $225 is spent on tax preparation. In addition, some individuals may add a check into cash loan, which adds associated fees, to cover the cost, said Cindy Rodgers, United Way campaign event coordinator.

Taxes are prepared by trained volunteers who are licensed through the Ohio Benefit Bank or AARP, according to Maki. There are no age or income restrictions on who can take advantage of the program, she said, which is available through April 12.

Last year, the four SCOPE sites served 2,377 individuals, and Maki is expecting as much as a 20 percent increase this year. The program kicked off Feb. 1.

“Even if we can help one person save $225, or one family, that’s an impact,” said Maki.

SCOPE has provided tax preparation for seniors through AARP in the past, said Maki, but the United Way wanted to partner with SCOPE to make the service available to anyone.

The Trumbull County Partnership for Financial Empowerment is an initiative formed in 2015 with area nonprofit agencies and some financial institutions. According to Maki, the need for the organization was discovered through extensive research that found financial literacy in Trumbull County was in need of improvement.

Appointments for tax preparation can be made the same day by phone at each location. A list of locations and times is available at www.unitedwaytrumbull.org/free-tax-preparation.

Taxpayers must bring a photo identification, social security cards for anyone being claimed, wage and earning statements, proof of bank account, interest and dividend statements from said bank and a copy of last year’s federal and state returns or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

A “last chance Saturday,” on April 13, will provide an opportunity for people who missed the normal window for filing to take advantage of the free tax preparations, said Maki.

avugrincic@tribtoday.com

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