Group sees drop in those seeking free tax service

January 26, 1999|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

A 4-year-old free tax service for low-income taxpayers reported yesterday fewer applicants than last year, but the service will be offering help with tax preparations on three Saturdays in February.

"We've done the usual things to tell the public, but we are behind in signing people up," said Winifred C. Borden, executive director of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.

"We want to make sure people know we are available to help them at no cost to them. We have over 40 lawyers and accountants who have volunteered to provide this service."

She added, "When the taxpayers walk out of here all they need is a stamp. Our lawyers fill out the forms themselves and have the envelopes."

Last year, the agency helped 130 Baltimore-area residents prepare income tax forms, the third straight year of increased business. The tax preparation conferences averaged an hour or more.

Sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 6, 13 and 20 at the service offices, 520 W. Fayette St. Those interested must make appointments by calling 410-547-6537.

To qualify, a family of two may earn up to $21,032, a family of three up to $25,091, and a family of four up to $30,930.

The service is aimed at people who qualify for the earned income credit, but any low-income taxpayer is eligible.

Earned income credit is a tax credit for employed people whose income doesn't exceed $26,473 gross annual salary for a family with one child, or $30,095 for families with more than one child. The children must be younger than age 19 or, if they are full-time students, younger than age 24. Those with no children can make no more than $10,030.

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service is a nonprofit group providing help year-round for Marylanders with limited income. Besides income taxes, the service helps in disputes with landlords, product or service complaints, filing for bankruptcy, deed transfers, guardianships, wills, other tax matters and defense in car accidents if a person is sued and is uninsured.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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