ST. LOUIS — Some area families can get free help to prepare their income taxes, from the United Way 2-1-1 and local tax coalitions.
To qualify for the free help, families must have had a 2021 household income of $58,000 or less. People can dial 2-1-1 or visit 211helps.org to find their nearest tax preparation site, learn how to make an appointment or get more information.
The program operates flexibly to meet COVID-19 guidelines and keep volunteers and participants safe. While a limited number of sites offer walk-ins, most require advance appointments.
“We are grateful to continue offering free income tax preparation services in light of the financial challenges the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created for families in the St. Louis region,” said Debbie Irwin, community economic development director, United Way of Greater St. Louis. “By offering free tax preparation services, families save money on costly tax preparation fees. Trained volunteers also work to make sure families receive all of the tax credits they qualify for, which helps boost income so families can pay bills, get out of debt and save for the future.”
The United Way has long focused on helping to raise awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal and Missouri state tax credit that helps offset the tax burden for low-income working families. The average national EITC refund in 2021 was $2,461. According to the IRS, in 2021, more than 25 million workers and families nationwide received more than $62 billion in EITC.
This year, the tax coalition volunteers will also check on families’ eligibility for the Child Tax Credit, which was increased for 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
“The Advanced Child Tax Credits have made a real difference for low-income working families with children in the St. Louis region in meeting basic needs during a time of continued financial precarity,” Irwin added. “Increasing the Child Tax Credit and making it fully refundable has helped both low- and moderate income families increase their income, maintain their housing, and invest in their children. Research has shown that the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit have additional long-term societal benefits, including increasing child-wellbeing, health, and future earnings.”
Last year, United Way’s tax coalition partnership filed more than 17,000 tax returns in the St. Louis region, helping local low- and middle-income families receive more than $22 million in tax refunds.
United Way’s tax coalition partners include the Metropolitan St. Louis Community Tax Coalition, Gateway EITC Community Coalition, the National Association of Black Accountants–St. Louis Chapter, and the St. Louis Tax Assistance Program.