Jan 21, 2009

The Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center is now open

If you’re filing a basic tax return this year, there is no need to pay anyone to help you prepare your return or to take out a refund anticipation loan.

The Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center is now open at the Work Station in The Plains. At the Center, area residents can file their basic tax returns for free, and they can receive direct deposits of their refunds in 7-10 days.

Unfortunately, there are professional tax preparation companies that take advantage of low-income citizens who don’t know about the free services available to all area residents. Many low-income taxpayers are so eager to get tax refunds that they turn to refund anticipation loans, pay stub prep, and prepaid credit cards, so that they do not have to wait to receive their refunds. These services attract those who can least afford them, promising to put money in their pockets the same day they file a return. Sadly, these services come at a steep price.

Refund anticipations loans (RALs) are loans based on an individual’s tax return. Taxpayers receive their anticipated refund amount the same day that they file their returns when they use these types of loans. However, they are not only charged the cost of preparing the return, but are also charged with incredibly high interest rates, ranging from 40 to more than 100 percent

The prepaid credit card option is really just a refund anticipation loan disguised as a credit card. Users are charged a fee to take cash out at banks and ATMs, in addition to the fees charged to prepare the return.

Pay stub prep is another approach that many companies use to speed up the income tax process. This occurs when they take your last pay stub of the year and prepare your taxes from it. However, this method is never a good idea, as it can often result in inaccurate results leading to the chance of being audited by the IRS.

The Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center is a free alternative to all of these high-cost, high risk approaches. At the Center, IRS-certified volunteers prepare simple, basic individual income tax returns FREE of charge for Athens County residents. There are no hidden fees and no high interest rates. With direct deposit of your refund into a checking or savings account, you can have your ENTIRE refund in as little as 7 to 10 business days.

The Tax Assistance Center is conveniently located at The Work Station in The Plains. Basic returns are prepared by appointment. If you want your refund fast and free, and if you have received all of your tax documents, call the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services Fast & Free Tax Assistance Center today to schedule an appointment at 740-797-2523 or 1-800-762-3775.