Free Tax Prep Services in Austin
Don't let the April 17 deadline sneak up on you
By Austin Sanders,
7:00AM, Sat. Apr. 7, 2018
Don’t panic, but the deadline to file tax returns is just about a week away.
If you're weary of navigating the complicated tax code by filing yourself (which can be done for free online), fear not, there are services around town – staffed with IRS-certified volunteers – ready to help. Just keep in mind, being this close to the Tuesday, April 17 deadline, wait times are expected to be longer than usual.
Foundation Communities, a local nonprofit that provides affordable housing and other financial services to people around Austin, continues their free tax prep service available to anyone making less than $55,000 annually. (If more than four people live in the household, then the income eligibility increases by $5,000 for each additional family member.) The organization has 600 volunteers stationed at six community tax centers in Austin and one in Round Rock, and all are accepting walk-in appointments up until the filing deadline. Most of the locations are open until 4pm or later. For a full list of locations and hours, view the tax prep flyer. Kori Hattemer, who oversees the tax prep operation, said to expect wait times between two and three hours, from start to finish, “but that can vary by day and time of day.” So get there early and expect to wait.
Community members need to bring photo identification and a Social Security card (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) for each person included on the tax return they will be filing. In some cases, depending on the type of return, additional documents may be needed as well. For a full list of what to bring, view the Foundation Communities checklist (available in English and Spanish).
Foundation Communities has also partnered with StreetCred Austin – a national nonprofit that helps low-income families access government assistance programs – to offer free tax prep help at the People’s Community Clinic and the CommUnityCare Southeast Health and Wellness Center. Foundation Communities and StreetCred Austin volunteers will be on-site Monday through Thursday from 11am-8pm; Friday 1-5pm, and Saturday 9am-5pm. Together, the two groups hope to exceed the more than $5 million in savings Foundation Communities saved the people they served last year.
Another organization, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, will be providing free tax preparation to members of the public at select times until the April 17 deadline. Items to bring for this service include:
•Social Security card for each person on the return
•Tax documents for the current year
•Copy of last year's return
Kanya Lyons, public information specialist with the Austin Public Library, said that despite the organization’s name, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly group services all members of the public. She confirmed volunteers at each participating branch will help people on a first-come-first-served basis and that those looking for help should be wary of increasing wait times. Last week, some of the branches saw the wait grow to several hours. For a list of library branch locations offering the service and available times, see the online listing.