Free Tax Prep: Make an appointment with the United Way to prepare your taxes

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Free Tax Prep
United Way’s Judy Allen, photo by Pat Byington

United Way’s Judy Allen knows a thing or two about helping prepare peoples’ taxes and the impact it has on their lives. In 2006, Allen started working for the United Way Free Tax Prep program in its inaugural year.

Over 12 years, she and her fellow volunteers have helped prepare more than 20,000 tax returns. Last year, United Way of Central Alabama volunteers prepared 3,242 federal tax returns—resulting in refunds totaling $2,276,191. Those filers saved an estimated $648,400 in tax preparation fees by using this free service, which has already begun taking appointments for free tax preparation for the 2017 tax year.

Photo courtesy of the United Way of Central Alabama
The carpenter and his son

Allen could fill a book full of stories about how the necessary act of preparing taxes can make a difference in one’s financial stability and confronting life-changing moments in a family’s life.

“We had someone who was self-employed, a carpenter. He was a single dad with young children, and because we were able to find tax credits that he had earned, he filed a tax refund for each of the past three years that he was behind. This extra money helped him successfully secure health insurance. Later that year, one of his children was hospitalized. As a single dad he needed to be by his son’s side, not struggling to pay medical bills. The refund he received enabled him to do that. Take time off to be with his son. That was so important.”

How does the Free Tax Prep Program work?

Individuals and families with a household income up to $54,000 in 2017 qualify for the free service. IRS certified volunteers will help filers save an estimated $200 in tax prep fees and claim eligible Earned Income Tax Credits when they file.

The first available appointments started on January 17, so tax filers should make their appointments as soon as possible to guarantee their place.

Make an appointment today

To make an appointment tax filers can call United Way at 2-1-1 (or 1-888-421-1266) or visit to schedule an appointment online.

United Way’s 2-1-1 information center can also provide information on qualifications for the service, locations, dates and times and necessary documents clients should bring to their appointments.

Most tax returns are ready in just seven days after an initial interview appointment; the appointment itself lasts about 15 minutes.

Not only does United Way’s program help filers avoid the financial burden of tax preparation fees, but also allows them to take advantage of all of the tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, available to them. An estimated $270 million in federal tax credits go unclaimed each year because twenty percent of those eligible for the tax credit either do not claim it or do not file a tax return at all.

DSC 0088 Free Tax Prep: Make an appointment with the United Way to prepare your taxes
Photo courtesy of the United Way of Central Alabama

United Way also offers free tax preparation online at, and no appointment is necessary. This service is free for individuals earning $66,000 or less. A complimentary MyFreeTaxes helpline is available to individuals using the service.

Avoid the April tax day rush

Make your appointment today with the United Way Free Tax Prep program. Avoid that April 15th tax day rush a few months early. Begin 2018 with a commitment toward financial stability and peace of mind.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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