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Crunching the Numbers: Free Tax Help Available in Ohio

Eligible Ohioans can avoid high tax preparation service fees with help from the Ohio Benefit Bank. (Ohio Benefit Bank)
Eligible Ohioans can avoid high tax preparation service fees with help from the Ohio Benefit Bank. (Ohio Benefit Bank)
January 19, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Tax season is here and some Ohioans can get free help crunching the numbers. Low and moderate-income households can avoid high tax preparation service fees through the Ohio Benefit Bank's free tax filing service.

Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio is one of the Ohio Benefit Bank's largest tax filing sites and spokesperson Brad Draper says counselors are experienced in assisting others.

"Our folks will help hundreds of people each tax season and so they've probably seen just about any situation that can be thrown at them and answer questions and just help with that level of comfort in getting your taxes done," he says.

Self-serve filing is also available through the Ohio Benefit Bank for those who want to go it alone. For either filing option to be eligible, those filing married jointly can have incomes up to $95,000.

For any other filing status $65,000 is the income threshold. Sites are located around the state and an appointment can be made online at ohiobenefits.org.

In the recently-passed federal spending bill, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit were permanently extended.

Draper explains that's another good reason to speak with a counselor because for those who qualify, those credits can really add up. He adds even if they don't owe income tax, families may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"For example a family with one child that has income but that income is less than $39,131 for somebody filing as a single person, that credit could be worth $3,000," says Draper.

Last year, the Ohio Benefit Bank helped file federal and state tax returns for over 25,000 households, claiming nearly $48 million in refunds and tax credits.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH