LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - One of the most tedious and frustrating tasks every American is required to do just got a little easier for Lee County families in need.
"We want families to know that you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to get the tax benefits that they're entitled to. Families have earned their full refund and they should be able to get all of the benefits they are entitled to," explains Sarah Louise Smith, Executive Director of Impact Alabama.
In a partnership with Auburn University students, Impact Alabama is providing free tax preparation services for working families in Lee County.
Services are available to families making less than $52,000 per year with children in the home or $20,000 per year without children in the home.
"Last year we had over 425 students prepare returns for 6,200 families statewide. So this year we're running 19 tax sites all around the state and we have 600 trained student volunteers," says Smith.
The tax preparation service is aimed at assisting families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or the federal government's largest and most successful antipoverty program for low-income, working families.
However, according to Impact Alabama's SaveFirst, Lee County families lose millions of dollars each year to commercial tax preparers simply to access this benefit.
This year, 40 trained students from AU will help serve families at two locations, the Boykin Community Center in Auburn and the Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika.
"We are expecting to serve about 6,800 hundred families across that state so that will mean bringing over $12 million in tax refunds and helping families save over $2 million in preparation fees," explain Smith.
Participating families will also be able to enter the SaveNow WinLater sweepstakes.
For every $50 eligible families invest in a federal savings bond, they will earn a chance to win a $5,000 grand prize at the end of tax season.
Alabama residents interested in participating in SaveNow WinLater or in scheduling a free tax preparation appointment should call 1-888-99-TAX-AL. Daytime, evening and weekend hours for tax preparation are available.