Free Tax Service For Fresno County

January 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Starting Monday, the United Way is offering free tax services throughout Fresno and Tulare counties.

Liana Pino works full time for the internal revenue service. But on Saturday, she and dozens of volunteers gave up their time to finish training for VITA, the volunteer income tax assistance program that will be offered to valley residents starting February 1.

"We're a free service and right now in these hard times, they can't afford to put out $100 to go get their income tax returns done," said Liana Pino, VITA Volunteer.

The United Way helps organize the VITA program every tax season.

But this year, they expect more people to file. Last year, valley area volunteers filed more than 4700 tax returns.

This year, they're prepared to file more than 6,000 because people are now eligible to receive additional money back.

"In the years past, we've seen that the earned income tax benefit was roughly around $3,000 to $4,000. Because of the way the economy, has been, congress has approved a temporary increase. So the increase is almost by $1500," said May Gnia Vang, United Way.

Families making $48,000 or less can receive up to $5,657.

Last year, families making less than $38,000 were only eligible to receive up to $4824 in earned income tax credits.

For singles making less than $12,000 they can receive up to $457.

Last year, singles making less than $18,000 were eligible to receive up to $438. "That supplements their income all year so they count on that money."

"I'm looking forward to helping people out I guess, making life easier for them so they don't have to go out and spend a lot of money," said Javier Perez, VITA Volunteer.

There are 30 VITA sites that are open to people with low to moderate income, starting on Monday.