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Tax deadline is nearly here (but the return may be less than before)

Two women answer phones at desks in an office.
Michael Emami
Peace Inc. employees answer phone calls at their office.

Tax season is nearing the end as the deadline to file or request an extension is coming up on Tuesday, April 18. And the free preparation options for lower income taxpayers are dwindling.

A volunteer tax preparer counsels a client through filing their taxes. The service is free at the nonprofit Peace Inc as part of a government program to support lower income communities. They must earn less than $60,000 a year to be eligible for the free help.

But some of the clients are disappointed by what’s the volunteer preparers have been telling them. Peace logistics manager Sharon Thompson said some key COVID-era tax credits are no longer available this year, leaving some of the country’s lowest earners to see smaller returns after a year of inflation hitting their budgets hard.

“So the child tax credit, the increase on that has not is not here anymore,” Thompson said.

Last year that gave people about $3,000 back, Thompson said.

“The earned income tax credit is still there, but the ceiling has been lowered and the amount that is given has reduced also," she said.

Still, the expertise from the Peace volunteers helps the taxpayers get the most money back. The demand before deadline has every appointment for the tax preparation booked.

However, Thompson said there’s still another option for people who waited until the last minute—Peace Inc. will support taxpayers as they file their returns on their own.

“They can come in and utilize our computers," Thompson said. "I'm here to walk them through it, I can't do their taxes, but they will prepare them themselves. And then they ask questions.”

Those opportunities are still open up until Tuesday, and available to people making less than $73,000 a year. Individuals must call ahead of time for an appointment.