Multi-Service center offering free tax help

The Multi-Service center and United Way of King County are partnering to offer low- to moderate-income families a way to potentially plumpen their tax refunds for free.

United Way of King County, through the center, is helping families file their 2008 taxes and determine if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Volunteer IRS-certified tax preparers will be available 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through April 15 at the M.S.C, 1230 S. 336th St. They will be conducting similar services at 14 other King County locations. All assistance will be free.

“We want to make sure we are serving a population that most needs this,” United Way of King County spokesman Jared Erlandson said. “We are not going to turn people away.”

United Way volunteers will focus on the EITC while offering tax help. Between 15 and 20 percent of those eligible for the credit do not apply for it, Erlandson said. Many simply do not know about the refund, he said. The money is federal dollars that go undistributed if it is not claimed, he said.

If eligible, the EITC can have a significant impact on a low- or moderate-income tax filer. Refunds can be as much as $4,824 for a family of three, he said.

“Getting a chunk of $5,000 can be such a huge amount of money; It can make a difference for a family,” Erlandson said. “It builds a little bit of a pad to keep people away from the edge.”

A family with two or more children must earn less than a $38,646 earned income to qualify for the credit. A single individual with no children must have an earned income of $12,880 or less to qualify. One may qualify for the tax credit even if he or she does not earn enough wages to legally be required to file a tax return, according to the I.R.S. Web site,

At some locations, foreign language interpreters will be available. The credit does not effect welfare benefits and is not generally used to determine Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, low-income housing or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments and eligibility, according to the I.R.S site.

In 2008, United Way volunteers prepared 12,330 tax returns, according to the United Way of King County Web page, A total of $14.4 million in federal refunds were secured, including $4.6 million in E.I.T.C.

In Federal Way, 461 individuals who visited the M.S.C. to file their tax returns were assisted. A total of $657,525 in refunds were captured. Of this, $250,170 came from the E.I.T.C., Multi-Service Center communications manager Tricia Schug said.

Tax assistance through United Way and the Multi-Service Center does not require an appointment, but arriving early in the tax filing season is recommended. Those wishing to capitalize on the free service ought to bring W-2 forms for all jobs worked in 2008, a social security card or knowledge of that number and 2007’s tax return, if possible. Additionally, one must be a citizen of the United States, know all claimed dependents’ dates of birth and, if filing jointly, both spouses must be present to sign the return.

Check it out:

• Visit the Multi-Service Center at 1230 S. 336th St. or call (253) 838-6810 for more information.

• Learn more about the E.I.T.C. by visiting the I.R.S. Web page,,id=96406,00.html.

• learn more about United Way of King County’s tax services by visiting the Web page

• Taxing resources and help may also be found at the Federal Way Regional Library, 34200 1st Way S., and Federal Way 320th Library, 848 S. 320th St.

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