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Tax Prep Programs at Credit Unions: NerdWallet’s Picks

Feb. 19, 2013
Personal Finance
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Ah, tax time. Hate it or tolerate it, you’ve still got to finish those forms. If the idea of filing your own taxes puts you in a panic, stop by your local credit union. Many credit unions offer free or discounted tax prep assistance. You may not even need to be a member! Read on for details.

Free Tax Prep Programs

If your household earns $51,000 or less annually, you could be eligible for free tax preparation assistance from an IRS-certified volunteer. The types of programs vary, but the most common is the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which helps qualified individuals with face-to-face counseling, filling out forms, or free access to a computer. Trained volunteers can also provide information about special credits for low-income taxpayers, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. Many participating credit unions are offering these services from now until April, or similar free services through a different non-profit organization.

Local Government Federal Credit Union (Raleigh, NC)

Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU) has trained VITA affiliates available to help you at every branch. You don’t even need to make an appointment! Fill out their tax preparation interview worksheet and consent form, and bring all the necessary documents into a branch during normal business hours, and someone will have your return ready for you to review and sign within 3 business days. Through a contractual agreement, LGFCU members share branch locations with State Employees Credit Union, located throughout North Carolina. Membership is open to affiliates of local government units and their family members. For complete details, click here.

Tempe Schools Credit Union (Tempe, AZ)

In conjunction with the Tempe Community Council, Tempe Schools Credit Union is hosting free tax prep sessions on Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., and it’s first come, first serve. Elderly, disabled, and low-income members of the community are all welcome, even if they’re not credit union members. The service runs through April 15th, although it won’t be available March 9th and 16th for Spring Break. Bring all your necessary tax documents (listed on the website). Tempe Schools Credit Union has branches in Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona. Membership is open to students, education employees and Select Employee Groups in Arizona, and family of eligible members. For details, click here.

Clearview Federal Credit Union (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clearview Federal Credit Union offers convenient appointments for free VITA tax preparation through April 6th. Call their VITA hotline first to see if you qualify, and if you do, they’ll let you know what additional steps you need to take. Appointments can be scheduled Tuesday through Saturday at participating branches. Days and available times may vary. Clearview Federal Credit Union has branches in Pittsburgh and surrounding cities in Pennsylvania, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school, volunteers or owns a business / legal entity in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Click here for complete details.

US Federal Credit Union (Burnsville, MN)

US Federal Credit Union offers VITA tax preparation services for qualified individuals in conjunction with AccountAbility Minnesota. If you’re a credit union member, they can also help you set up direct deposit for your refund. If you’re a credit union member, you have the option of filing your taxes directly through Internet Branch SM, their online banking service. US Federal Credit Union has branch locations in Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Fridley, Lakeville, Minneapolis, Northfield and Shakopee, Minnesota. Membership is open to people who live, work, worship, attend school or volunteer in the Greater Twin Cities Community SM, and family of eligible members. Click here for complete details.

TruStone Financial Credit Union (Kenosha, WI)

TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union offers free tax preparation for low-to-moderate incomes individuals age 60 and over in conjunction with AARP and the IRS. Appointments are available at their Green Bay Road location (Kenosha, Wisconsin) on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. through April 9th. Bring your previous year’s tax returns and necessary tax forms for this year. All eligible community members can take advantage of this program, even if they aren’t credit union members. TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union has eight branch locations in Minnesota and four in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Membership is open to residents of Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Cloud, Minnesota, Kenosha and Racine counties in Wisconsin, members of the TruStone Foundation, Select Employee Groups, and more. To make an appointment or find out additional details, click here.

Discounted Tax Prep Services

Don’t fit the low-to-moderate income bracket, but still need help with your taxes? A discounted tax prep service, which offers free or discounted assistance with your forms through the credit union or a third party partner, may be right for you. If you’re a credit union member, they can also help you set up direct deposit for your refund.

First Financial Federal Credit Union of Maryland (Lutherville, MD)                     

First Financial Federal Credit Union of Maryland members qualify for discounted tax preparation services at Financial Dimensions, Inc., a subsidiary of First Financial FCU,  based in Lutherville. Silver Dollar (senior) members get an extra 10% off. All the fees are listed on the website, so can quickly see what services are right for you, and how much they’ll cost. At tax time, the last thing you want to worry about is surprise fees! Financial Dimensions, Inc., is open Monday through Friday, with extended hours on Thursday. First Financial Federal Credit Union of Maryland has branches in Lutherville, Catonsville, Baltimore, Owings Mills and surrounding cities. Membership is open to educators, healthcare workers, federal employees and affiliates of select businesses in Maryland. Click here for details.

Ohio University Credit Union (Athens, OH)

Ohio University Credit Union offers their own in-house tax preparation service for members and non-members alike. You get $10 off if you schedule your appointment by February 28th, and 10% off if you’re a member of the credit union’s Senior Associates Club. First-time local business customers get $25 off. Members can also use ScoreCard Bonus Points for their fees. Contact one of Ohio University Credit Union’s registered specialists for complete details. Ohio University Credit Union has 2 branches in Athens, Ohio. Membership is open to current and former Ohio University and Hocking College employees, students and their family members, and members of many affiliate groups. Click here for complete details.

Oregon Community Credit Union (Eugene, OR)

Oregon Community Credit Union wants to remind you that all credit union members are eligible for discounts on tax preparation services from TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt. They’ve also got some great tax credit tips on their blog. If you made any donations to charity or green improvements on your home this year, you might be eligible for more money back from Uncle Sam. Oregon Community Credit Union is also offering free AARP Tax-Aide tax prep services to members of the community 60 and older on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Oregon Community Credit Union has branches in Eugene, Springfield and Salem, Oregon. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill counties in Oregon.

Don’t see a tax prep service near you?

Click here to search for participating VITA locations by zip code. All credit union members are also eligible for discounts from TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt.

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