Mayor Michelle Wu today announced that the Boston Tax Help Coalition (BTHC) has launched its twentieth tax season and is once again offering free tax preparation for residents who earn $60,000 per year or less. In response to COVID-19, the Boston Tax Help Coalition and community partners have modified tax preparation services, providing them both in the community and remotely to ensure that all qualified residents can file safely while maximizing tax refunds and credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Tax preparation assistance is available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, French, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Locations and hours are listed on bostontaxhelp.org or by calling 311.
“Boston residents can save hundreds of dollars per household through the Boston Tax Help Coalition’s free tax preparation,“ said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Staff and volunteers will also help eligible residents receive the highest Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit possible. These free resources are not only a valued resource to thousands of Boston residents, but serve as a model for similar programs around the country.”
The EITC is a refundable credit for low-wage workers. Along with the Child Tax Credit, the EITC is a powerful anti-poverty tool which lifted more than 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2020, including about 5 million children. In 2021, the average EITC amount returned to BTHC taxpayers was $2,314. Yet, according to the IRS, 20 percent of all eligible filers do not receive the credit, with approximately $10 million dollars of EITC left unclaimed in Boston.
“The Boston Tax Help Coalition provides a critical service to our community, meeting residents where they are to inform them of tax credits and guide them through the tax preparation process,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “United Way is proud to help fund this program and support similar financial opportunity initiatives to ensure that the most vulnerable households in our region, who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are able to build a foundation to financial empowerment.”
“The pandemic has introduced many complexities to life – and to the tax filing process,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew. “We are proud to be part of the Boston Tax Help Coalition, and we are motivated to ensure that every eligible resident receives the refunds they’re due. That can make all the difference during a time of extreme hardship.”
Due to the pandemic and job losses, many taxpayers’ refunds could be negatively impacted. To protect taxpayers from losing much-needed refund dollars, Congress created a “Lookback Provision” under the stimulus. Individuals may elect to use their 2019 earned income to calculate their 2021 EITC if their 2019 earned income is greater than their earned income from 2020 or 2021. Residents should bring a copy of their 2020 and 2019 taxes with them to the tax appointment to maximize their EITC credit.
BTHC serves approximately 13,000 taxpayers annually, training hundreds of IRS-certified volunteers and returning $24 million in refunds and credits directly to taxpayers. Since its founding in 2001, BTHC has served 183,000 taxpayers and obtained $326 million for them in federal and state refunds. In addition to tax preparation, the Coalition provides clients with other free services to improve their financial health. The Coalition connects taxpayers to Bank On Boston, part of a national initiative that helps residents identify banking services that are safe, affordable, and non-predatory. Trained Financial Guides also offer taxpayers the Financial Check-Up, a key component of Boston Builds Credit, the City’s free credit building program. A Financial Check-Up is a one-on-one session in which a taxpayer can review his or her credit score with a guide and obtain personalized credit-building strategies.