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Coalition Offers Free Income Tax Help

A coalition of local organizations is offering free income tax return preparation to low-income residents of Allegheny County.

Individuals who earn less than $20,000 per year or families who make less than $40,000 per year are eligible to set up a free appointment with the Money In Your Pocket Coalition.

Appointments can be made by calling 211, or by visiting the group's website. The coalition lists fifteen offices across the Pittsburgh area.

Jeff McKinney, a volunteer coordinator at the Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District, said the free tax help makes a big difference to low-income families.

"I've actually worked at pay-sites also, and the atmosphere is completely different from a pay-site," said McKinney. "Some people don't even go because they can't afford to pay."

Not only is the service free, but McKinney said an appointment can result in a windfall.

"Some people don't even know anything about the earnings, income credit, child tax credit, or anything else. It's very rewarding, as a preparer, to do someone's taxes and to suddenly give them unexpected money," said McKinney.

Money In Your Pocket is comprised of Goodwill, Just Harvest, the United Way, and other nonprofit organizations. It's been offering free tax help since 2006.

Federal income tax returns are due on April 17 this year.