There’s free tax preparation help available for modest-income individuals and families – but it’s harder to find this year than in the past. The Center for Economic Progress has tax preparation sites staffed by volunteers who will prepare tax returns for free for individuals with incomes under $25,000 and families with incomes under $50,000. Juan Villalobos, who oversees the program, says low-income people shouldn’t have to pay for this.
“People are going to other places, second parties, to get it done, and so we as a non-profit organization want to be able to provide that same service, at even a higher level of quality for free,” he said.
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A funding cut means they have only 16 sites this year – half as many as in the past – and only two of the sites are Downstate. One is in Springfield, open Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. through April 15, and one in Karnak that’s open this Sunday only (Feb. 8) at 9 a.m.
Otherwise, there are seven sites in Chicago, as well as locations in Aurora, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Evanston, Joliet, Waukegan and West Chicago.
The center still does about 20,000 tax returns a year.