Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Why pay to have your taxes prepared? Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland offers free tax preparation to residents throughout northeast Ohio. Tax prepares are volunteers, professionally trained in tax law by the Cuyahoga Earned Income Tax Coalition and appointments are available between January and April.
Anyone interested in having their taxes prepared for free should call United Way of Greater Cleveland by dialing 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment.
For questions about NHS of Greater Cleveland's VITA program or general tax information or if you are interested in volunteering as a Greeter or Preparer, contact us today.
NHS of Greater Cleveland's Top 10 Tax Tips
- File for free. If you make under $53,000 – you can file for free. Call 2-1-1 to make an appointment.
- Bring all your “stuff.” Tax time remains in the non-digital world, still lots of paper. Be sure to keep, file, and bring with you: Photo ID, Social Security cards for the entire family, any income statements (W2's), mortgage and student loan interest, taxes paid, charitable donations, and your return from the prior year.
- Bring your account numbers for direct depositing your refund. The number one reason tax-filers do not use direct deposit for their refund is because they do not have their bank account information with them. It is quicker and safer to direct deposit than receive a paper check.
- Use the Better Business Bureau accredited tax preparers. If you are paying for tax preparation, be sure to check the credentials, experience, pricing, and service-delivery of your preparer. Shy away from paid preparers who claim to “find” money or get the refund quicker.
- Don’t forget to sign and date your tax return. The IRS indicates that a large number of returns are held up because of small errors on the return such as sign and dating the return, illegible numbers, or typos. Double check yourself and any math involved.
- If you have special circumstances, start early. Whether it is a Social Security number request, donation slip request, or reprints of W2 forms – give yourself plenty of time to get those. If you have deductions for owning your own business (Schedule C), be sure to plan far ahead.
- E-file your return. Electronic filing presents several advantages – faster to file and receive refund, more secure, provides more payment options, allows you to track the progress of your return, and is integrated into electronic software.
- Send all the forms but keep copies. Don’t forget to mail copies of your W2s and other forms. Be sure to have copies of your entire tax return and anything you mail.
- Don’t forget state and local returns. The federal tax return receives most of the attention but almost all filers will need to complete a state and local tax return. The state form is free to file online and uses information from the federal return. Local returns vary but many will calculate what you owe for you by sending your W2s to them.
- Split and Save. Tax time is the ultimate financial check-up moment. Your tax form allows you to split your tax refund up to 4 different times. You can put some of your refund in a checking account and split the rest into U.S. Savings Bonds, savings accounts, or retirement. Use your lump-sum payment as a way to save.