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Bartlesville Regional United Way promotes free tax help

Bartlesville Regional United Way encourages Americans earning $62,000 or less to keep more of their hard-earned money this tax season by using free tax preparation services and accessing valuable tax credits. A new national survey finds 72 percent of working Americans making that amount or less are unaware they qualify for free tax filing and counseling.

The survey, conducted for United Way Worldwide, finds that most respondents are unfamiliar with MyFreeTaxes, a mobile-optimized software program allowing free federal and state tax preparation and filing in all 50 states and Washington, DC.  The self-file service is available for anyone earning $62,000 or less. On average, filers can save $200 in tax preparation fees by using the free platform. To take advantage of the MyFreeTaxes software, simply go to anytime to use free H&R Block tax software.

Another option available to the community is to receive personal help with your taxes. TaxAide is available at the Bartlesville Public Library from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through tax season, except President’s Day. Volunteers can prepare most personal taxes, but cannot prepare any with rental property, farm income, small business with employees or a write-off for a home office. Bring your photo ID, Social Security card, all tax information and last year’s taxes. Take advantage of either of these opportunities to make sure you get all the credits you are eligible for. For more information about TaxAide at the library, contact Doug Parks at 918-766-1879.

“We are grateful for these volunteers who operate the TaxAide program, giving their time an expertise to help those in our community navigate the tax process,” said Jody Burch, CEO and executive director of the Bartlesville Regional United Way. “They have been doing this for many years.”

This fits in with United Way’s mission of changing lives in the areas of education, income and health.

“We recognize that affordable tax preparation services are out of reach for many in our community,” said Burch. “In addition to the savings derived from using this service, taxpayers can reduce the amount of income tax they pay by claiming valuable credits. We know that tax refunds help many in our community achieve greater financial stability, and we want to help them keep more of what they earn.”

Limited Awareness of Tax Credits

Many of the 1,000 adults surveyed were unaware that they were eligible for tax credits. Just four in ten adults reported awareness of the Child Tax Credit, while fewer than 60 percent said they are familiar with the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Almost 20 percent were not aware of any tax credits they could access.

Spending Refunds on Critical Needs

Tax refunds help working Americans put money in their pockets for everyday items and save for the future. About 23 percent of those asked say they spend their refunds for food, while 22 percent spend the money on housing costs; 31 percent use their refunds for utilities. A quarter of those who receive refunds put the money into savings or invest the funds for the future.

United Way Can Help With Tax Preparation

Filers can enter data into the secure MyFreeTaxes site anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 18 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday; staff will continue to provide assistance on a more limited basis through October 15, based on demand. The website also provides a live chat function.

Individuals earning more than $62,000 a year can still use the H&R Block software through the MyFreeTaxes site at a discounted rate.

MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way, with the support of a grant from the Walmart Foundation. The tax filing software is provided by H&R Block and free tax support is available in English and Spanish by IRS-certified specialists. 

The national public opinion survey was conducted for United Way Worldwide November 18-23, 2015, using Lightspeed GMI online survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,000 American adults with income of $62,000 or below. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the U.S. adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1000 adults is +/-4 % with a confidence level of 95 percent.