United Way of Greater St. Louis has been working with community partners to provide local families in need free tax preparation services
By Charlotte Beard
For over 16 years now, United Way of Greater St. Louis has been working with community partners to provide local families and individuals free tax preparation services. This year the United Way 2-1-1 program will help those who qualify and earned an annual income of less than $56,000 in 2019, which is an increased threshold from last year’s requirement of less than $55,000. Residents can dial 2-1-1 or visit 211helps.org for more information.
United Way’s tax coalition partners include Metropolitan St. Louis Community Tax Coalition, Gateway EITC Community Coalition, National Association of Black Accountants, and St. Louis Tax Assistance Program. In 2019, 798 volunteers worked through the coalitions to provide the free tax preparation services.
“Last year, the partnership filed nearly 18,000 tax returns in the St. Louis region, helping local low- and middle-income families receive more than $17 million in tax refunds,” stated Debbie Irwin, Community Economic Development Director for United Way of Greater St. Louis. “Through free tax preparation services, we hope to again help many working families this year receive all of the tax credits they qualify for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit.”
Sources state that United Way of Greater St. Louis began its tax preparation program in 2003. They worked with volunteers to help create the Gateway EITC Community Coalition. Additionally, they began connecting with other coalitions that provide tax preparation services. Though grants help offset the free tax preparation costs, the services rely heavily on IRS-trained volunteers to help prepare taxes.
Some of the tax preparation sites will provide these additional free services: 1) ability to open a checking and/or savings account, 2) ability to meet with a credit counselor and get a free credit report, and 3) opportunity to purchase savings bonds.
For the duration of this tax preparation period, free assistance is provided on some weekdays but available primarily on Saturdays; days and times vary by location. The Hazelwood Baptist Church at 6161 Howdershell Drive in Hazelwood provides pre-scheduled services on Mondays and Fridays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The North County Government Center located at 715 Northwest Plaza Drive in St. Ann provides pre-scheduled services on Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Both locations only serve residents 60 years or older. Appointments for these locations can be made by calling 314-615-7447. Other tax preparation services around St. Louis are available to all eligible walk-ins on Saturdays; dates and times vary. Click on the Free Prep Tax Site List at the bottom of the Free Tax Preparation page for specific details (http://www.211helps.org/free-tax-prep). The Free Tax Preparation page also provides details for determining eligibility and a list of needed documentation for visiting one of the sites.