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Free Tax Time Help for Many West Virginians

February 4, 2008

Charleston, WV – This tax season, you may be eligible for free assistance with your income tax returns. James Martin with Legal Aid of West Virginia says there are two free programs that can help many people in the state. They are "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance" (VITA) for low- and middle-income taxpayers; and "Tax Counseling for the Elderly," which specializes in helping senior citizens.

"They have trained volunteers who can help answer questions you might have about preparing your return. They can also help file it electronically, which is the fastest way to get a refund if you are due a refund."

Martin cautions against some tax preparation come-ons, such as the "refund anticipation loan." He explains that, while the idea of quick cash is tempting, it also is expensive. These loans typically carry a high interest rate and the services that offer them also charge a fee for helping file the return. He believes it's a better deal all around, to get free help and forgo the loan.

"Oftentimes, particularly for low-income people, you could get the same kind of help from the IRS, through VITA, or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program."

Martin also recommends low-income West Virginians ask about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and apply for it if they're eligible. You can find VITA sites and get information about Tax Counseling for the Elderly by calling tollfree, (800) 829-1040.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV