Two local charities have partnered with volunteers to give working families free federal tax return assistance, specifically to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a spokeswoman said.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and United Way of Silicon Valley are working with the IRS to operate Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites to help low- and moderate-income families get tax refunds, said Caitlin Kerk, spokeswoman for both Catholic Charities and United Way.
Families earning $51,000 or less qualify under federal rules for the free tax services at VITA sites, Kerk said.
The Earned Income Tax Credit for 2012 allows a tax credit of $5,891 for families with low and moderate incomes and three or more children, $5,236 for those with two kids, $3,169 for one child and $475 for those with no kids, Kerk said.
There are now 53 VITA sites in Santa Clara County where IRS-certified volunteers provide free tax preparation for the 2012 federal tax year, according to Kerk. Saturdays February through April, from 12 to 2 p.m., the VITA at the Milpitas Public Library will assist families with their tax returns.
Catholic Charities last year helped 2,000 taxpayers obtain about $1 million in returns from the Earned Income Tax Credit, refunds totaling $2.9 million and saved them about $200,000 in tax preparation fees, Kerk said.
The church-based charity debuted its program, called Tax EZ, at a news conference Thursday attended by Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese at the Eastside Neighborhood Center, a VITA site in east San Jose, Kerk said.
The Catholic group operates nine of the 53 VITA sites in the county.
United Way, in cooperation with the IRS, this year will provide nine "drop-off" sites and eight "do-it-yourself" sites offering free tax services for fliers in Santa Clara County, Kerk said.
The drop-off offices permit filers to turn in their tax documents and have volunteer tax preparers work on the returns before their next appointment.
At do-it-yourself sites, computers and people who can answer tax questions will be available for filers who need less assistance with their returns.
For more information about Catholic Charities' VITA sites, call (408) 325-5220 or go to www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.
For information on United Way's VITA offices, call its referral line at 211 or visit www.211scc.org.