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Free Tax Help For Californians: Dial 211

April 3, 2008

Yorba Linda, CA - Tax help is just a phone call away, and it won't cost Californians a dime. Dialing '211' directs callers to groups that offer free tax assistance, such as AARP's Tax-Aide. Bill Jennings says the service is mostly for seniors and individuals with low and middle incomes and, this year, particularly for those who may need help filing for the economic stimulus rebate. He says people who don't usually file income tax returns are eligible for the rebate if they received at least $3,000 in income. That does not, however, include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

"It could be interest income, it could be from 1099s, or Individual Retirement Accounts. They should bring all that information to a tax center and someone will prepare the taxes for free."

Jennings warns individuals to stay clear of people who offer to charge fees to file the paperwork. The additional costs can be outrageous, especially when IRS-approved volunteer programs will do it free of charge.

"I've already seen evidence of this, someone trying to charge $50 for this $300 rebate. I think it's really foolish if they go in and pay that much."

Jennings says it's also important to note that the stimulus checks do not have to be counted as income when tax season comes around again next year. As he puts it, it's "free money," with no strings attached. More information and online tax forms can be found at www.aarp.org.

Lori Abbott/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - CA