Homeowners Should Carefully Review Interest Statements and Seek Guidance from Financial Counselors
Washington, DC – January 17, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — NeighborWorks America urges consumers to seek advice from nonprofit organizations that provide free tax preparation services, as W-2 and other income forms arrive in taxpayers’ mailboxes and the start of the 2012 tax season begins. This guidance will empower consumers to avoid scammers or those offering ‘low-cost’ quick refund services which harm taxpayers in the long-term.
NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities, supports a network of more than 235 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Several NeighborWorks organizations offer free tax preparation services to new and existing low- and moderate-income clients, with several working in partnership with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service. Depending on the complexity of the return, using a free service can save each taxpayer hundreds of dollars.
Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, Inc. (Cleveland, OH) is one of the NeighborWorks organizations engaged with VITA that offers free tax preparation services.
“Providing the opportunity for residents to receive free tax preparation and showing them the benefits of the earned income tax credit allows for increased community wealth-building,” said Lou Tisler, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. “It is our goal to increase the assets of our residents to be used for achieving, preserving and sustaining the American dream of homeownership, and having a VITA site is one of the many tools we use to accomplish this mission.”
Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (Ventura, CA) is another NeighborWorks organization engaged with VITA that offers free tax preparation services.
“Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation residents benefit from the VITA program as a resource for affordable (free) tax services that assure they are getting their tax forms completed correctly,” said Kathryn Benner, community building manager at Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation. “Perhaps more importantly, residents may also benefit from programs such as the earned income tax credit that tax preparers are aware of, and residents may not know about. This is a truly valuable service to all low-income residents in Ventura County who need to make every dollar count.”
“We want consumers to be financially savvy with their short-term and long-term financial decisions,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America. “That means planning ahead to avoid costly and usually unnecessary tax-refund anticipation loans.”
Taxpayers who file their returns electronically often can expect to have their tax refund within about 10 days if they choose the direct deposit option.
With many homeowners having faced foreclosure in 2012, and many also obtaining a mortgage modification, it’s important that homeowners receive the best tax advice possible in order to file the correct long-form tax documents when itemizing deductions. Homeowners going through a foreclosure need to track their gain or loss for tax purposes and also address any income tax that might be due on the forgiveness or cancellation of debt. NeighborWorks VITA providers can help, or refer homeowners to appropriately qualified and priced tax preparers. At a time when scammers will take advantage of the uninformed consumer, NeighborWorks organizations are there to empower consumers with knowledge at every step of the process. Additionally, NeighborWorks America launched the Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign, which empowers homeowners to protect themselves against loan modification scams, find trusted help and report illegal activity to authorities.
It’s best to call ahead to your local NeighborWorks organization to determine if they offer tax services or have a referral network of free, trained professionals ready to help. To find contact information for local NeighborWorks organizations, go to http://www.nw.org/network/nwdata/NeighborWorksOrganizations.asp. To learn more about the Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign, go to www.loanscamalert.org.
About NeighborWorks America
For 35 years, NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.
Lindsay Moore, , 202-220-6317, twitter: @neighborworks