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Foundation Communities Offers Free Tax Prep, Helps Navigate Federal Delays

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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
/
KUT
Foundation Communities is offering free tax help to low-income families and individuals.

The 2018 tax filing season officially begins Monday, and Austin residents who meet certain income requirements can get free help preparing their taxes.

Foundation Communities has set up five tax centers in Austin and one in Round Rock. Individuals and families who earn less than $55,000 a year are eligible for free help.

Alyah Khan, communications coordinator with Foundation Communities, says the nonprofit expects to serve about 20,000 people this season, and that things will get busier as more people get their W-2’s and other tax documents in the mail.

Even for those who file now, some refunds won’t be available until mid-February. There’s a delay this year in claiming some tax credits, specifically the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit is really for working people,” Khan says. “The Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit for parents. A lot of our clients, because of their income levels, are the people who qualify for those credits.”

Khan says people are coming in with a lot of questions this year about whether the new federal tax law or the recent government shutdown could affect their filings.

Jay Thibodeaux, an associate professor at Austin Community College, is one of hundreds of volunteers who are helping people file taxes. He said he's been fielding questions like, “How much will the refund be?" and "Why is it more or less than last year?”

Khan says talking to a trained professional can help give taxpayers a sense of what to expect.

“No matter where you go, no matter who files your taxes, you will not get your refund sooner than" mid-February, she says. “So we are really encouraging working families that qualify for those tax credits to come and see us as soon as possible.”

Foundation Communities’ tax centers will remain open through April 17. Volunteers ask taxpayers to bring their photo ID, Social Security card, W-2 and proof of health insurance. 

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