Several Sites Offer Free Tax Service

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SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio— Notre Dame College students are back in the classrooms and are in the spirit of giving back.

The college is now one of 30 sites for Cuyahoga County's Earned Income Tax Credit Program (EITC).

The program helps low-income families with their return, including free service to process it.

"It's an opportunity for people who get back the least to get back up to 40 percent of their income in one check," said Ben Nichols of Enterprise Community Partners, a sponsor of EITC.

About 14 students are volunteering to help out and have become certified to do so by the Internal Revenue Service.

"We learn, in our classes, the textbook of what the taxes are," said senior Erin McGrath. "But here we get to help them out and see the real life scenario of how this credit really impacts the people in our community."

In 2010, Notre Dame College students completed about 750 returns -- that's the second highest for the EITC program. This year, they expect to double that.

"It's very chaotic in the beginning," McGrath said. "But after the first couple weeks, we start to get the hang of working with the software and we really start to enjoy working with the clients."

McGrath said on any given day the students can see 12 to 30 people, but many don't even know they're eligible.

About 15 to 20 percent of people in large urban communities are unaware they qualify for EITC, let alone the free tax service, said Shannon Crandall of the Cuyahoga EITC Coalition.

"The money that they get off of that refund helps pay bills that they need to live off of. Just to give their entire refund back, without any charges, is very important."

To find out if you're eligible and to schedule a free return, call the United Way Hotline at 211 or click here.

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