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Free tax preparation available

Free tax preparation is again available for qualifying residents in Olmsted and Dodge counties through the United Way of Olmsted County Financial Stability Partnership.

Not only do participants not pay to have their taxes prepared, but on average each of the 900 households that took advantage of the program last year got $1,500 to $2,000 back in federal tax credits, said Karen Erlenbusch, executive director of the United Way of Olmsted County.

"That helps move a family into greater financial security," Erlenbusch said.

Tax counselors also help participants find a mainstream financial institution so their tax refund can be deposited into a checking or savings account to avoid the excessive interest rates of a rapid refund loan, she said.

Program partners AARP and the Salvation Army have provided free tax preparation for many years, Erlenbusch noted. The United Way got involved to help coordinate a wider community outreach effort, she said.


"Oftentimes what happens to low- to moderate-income families is that their income is so low that they don't need to file taxes," she said. "But if don't file, they don't get the tax credits back."

Who is eligible for free tax preparation?Families and individuals who have low to moderate income and are residents of Olmsted and Dodge counties. Emphasis is placed upon attracting those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and first-time filers.

To see if you qualify:Call 2-1-1 from a landline or 1-800-543-7709 from a cellphone.

To schedule an appointment:Free tax appointments are available through April 15 at the following locations:

• Hawthorne Education Center, call 287-1958. Interpreters in Somali and Spanish available for scheduling and tax appointment.

• Senior Citizens Service, for ages 50 and older, call 287-1404.

• The Salvation Army, call 424-4197. Interpreters can be arranged

• Stewartville Civic Center, call 533-4787.


• In-home tax help can be arranged for those who are homebound by calling any of the sites.

• Additional days are scheduled at various senior high-rise apartments for building residents.

Major partners:AARP Tax-Aide Program, The Salvation Army, Rochester Senior Citizen Center, Hawthorne Education Center, Stewartville Senior Center, Cumulus Broadcasting (KROC AM), US Bank, First Alliance Credit Union, Internal Revenue Service and Minnesota Department of Revenue.

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