IRS, community groups offer free tax-prep help this Saturday

Every year, I intend to tackle my taxes early. Every year, I find myself where I am now: just starting with less than a month to go.

The good news for those of you in the same situation is that this Saturday you can get free help from IRS offices and various volunteer sites around the area.

The key is you have to earn $42,000 or less to qualify for free tax-return preparation.

Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the IRS will have employees available at the following taxpayer assistance centers: 600 Arch St., Philadelphia; 601 S. Henderson Rd., King of Prussia; 801 Old York Rd., Jenkintown; and 57 Haddonfield Rd., Cherry Hill.

Help is also available through various community groups on Saturday, such as the Campaign for Working Families, which is managed by the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. It will have nine sites around the city.

I’ve posted a complete list on the PhillyInc blog here. You can also go to the IRS' Web site here and click on the link that says “Find Free Help on Saturday.” If you don’t have a computer, call 1-800-906-9887 to find a tax-prep location near you.

Make sure you bring a bunch of documents, including some form of valid photo identification and Social Security cards for everyone listed on your return.

Most taxpayers earning less than $42,000 aren’t going to be itemizing deductions, so they’ll be filling out Form 1040EZ or 1040A. That means the process should take only minutes, according to David Stewart, an IRS spokesman in Philadelphia.

Why should you consider going? Stewart said a variety of tax credits available to low-income taxpayers often go unclaimed.

The Campaign for Working Families says about 39,000 eligible working people in Philadelphia do not file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which this year is worth up to $4,824. During the 2008 tax season, the group completed 13,500 tax returns and helped Philadelphia households collect $20 million in state and federal tax refunds.

There may be a line if you show up right at 9 a.m. Last year, Stewart said, it took about 90 minutes for IRS tax preparers to handle about 110 people who’d lined up early on the inaugural Super Saturday. After that, it was walk-up service for the rest of the day, he said.

If you can get your taxes done quickly and for free, I’d call that a Super Saturday.