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United Way needs tax prep volunteers across Southwestern Pennsylvania

Jeff Himler
| Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, 6:57 p.m.
Those who make less than a certain amount might not be required to file a federal tax return, but not filing could lead you to miss out on refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit.
GlendaleAZ.com
Those who make less than a certain amount might not be required to file a federal tax return, but not filing could lead you to miss out on refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit.

United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania hopes to recruit more than 470 volunteers to provide free tax preparation services to eligible area wage-earners from January through mid-April.

No prior experience with tax preparation is needed, the organization said. The United Way partners with the IRS to offer volunteers in-person and online training, which may be condensed for those with accounting experience. Continuing education credits are available for professionals, and internships are available for students.

Volunteers are needed at sites across Westmoreland, Allegheny, Fayette, Washington and Greene counties. Anyone interested must sign up at www.swpafreetaxes.org before Jan. 1.

The Westmoreland sites include: Westmoreland Community Action offices, 226 S. Maple Ave., Greensburg, and 326 Donner Ave., Monessen; Westmoreland County Community College campuses, 130 Depot St., Latrobe, and 1150 Fifth Ave., New Kensington.

Allegheny sites include the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches/Central Presbyterian Church, 305 Allegheny St., Tarentum.

Volunteers are expected to commit to spending three hours each week preparing tax returns for families and individuals with low incomes.

“Anyone who is comfortable working with people and a computer should consider giving their time,” Angela Reynolds, United Way's senior director of PA 2-1-1 Southwest and United for Families, said in a news release. Volunteers will be “making a difference in the lives of local working families who count on the (tax) refunds they've earned to help make ends meet.”

“It's also the first foot in the door for many families who can benefit from other resources United Way can connect them to,” said Kiandra Foster, program manager for United for Families, United Way.

Eligible taxpayers can make appointments for the service beginning Jan. 10 by visiting www.pa211sw.org or by calling 2-1-1.

Households with an annual income up to $54,000 may qualify for free in-person tax preparation; free online tax assistance is available for those with incomes of up to $66,000.

Across the five-county region last year, 457 volunteers dedicated more than 22,000 hours helping prepare more than 10,000 tax returns. They helped many eligible families obtain the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers who claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or get a refund of up to nearly $6,300.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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