Legal Aid of North Carolina and WFU Law School team up to provide free tax preparation

Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) in conjunction with Wake Forest University School of Law will offer free tax preparation for eligible taxpayers in Forsyth, Davie, Iredell, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties on Saturday, March 21, and Tuesday, March 24.

WFU Law School student volunteers will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 21 and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 24 at the Winston-Salem Office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, 102 W. Third St., Suite 460. To make an appointment for free tax preparations on one of those days, call 336-725-9162.

“This is a unique opportunity to help families who are reeling from the national economic crisis,” said Gray Wilson, coordinator of the LANC Tax Assistance Project in the Winston-Salem area. “LANC is committed to helping eligible North Carolina workers claim the Earned Income Tax Credits as a means to help them weather the economic crisis and to allow them to build a better future.”

LANC focuses its tax preparation assistance to low-income families who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credits (ETIC). For the first time this tax season, eligible North Carolina workers can claim the new North Carolina Earned Income Tax Credit (NC EITC) when they file their 2008 taxes. The NC EITC will be worth 3.5 percent of the federal credit. For families with two or more children, the two credits combined can be worth close to $5,000.

“This North Carolina EITC tax credit, the first the state has offered, comes at a time when working families are uncertain about their economic future,” said Janet Cowell, treasurer for the State of North Carolina. “Claiming both tax credits they’ve earned through this statewide outreach campaign delivers on the promise that we are here to serve the needs of working families while improving the state’s economy.”

According to EITC Carolinas, eligible workers leave an estimated $135 million or more in federal EITC dollars unclaimed every year in North Carolina, costing the state at minimum an additional $200 million in statewide economic stimulus. Many workers may be eligible for the EITC even if they lost their jobs during 2008. In addition to taxpayers who do not claim the tax credit, even more money is lost to working people when they use paid preparers and purchase costly rapid anticipation loans at high interest rates.

The eligibility requirements for both the federal and NC EITC are the same. Taxpayers who earned $42,000 or less may be eligible for free income tax preparation services provided by IRS‐certified preparers at LANC. Families earning up to $41,646 in 2008 will qualify for the EITC, depending on their number of children and their filing status. Single workers and those without children are also eligible.

Workers who do not owe taxes or who are not required to file a tax return are also eligible for EITC, but they must file a federal return to receive the federal credit and a state return for the NC EITC.