Tax help for those in need

– Tax filing can be daunting for anyone.
It can be even more so for low-income families in Gilroy, many
of whom speak only Spanish.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – Tax filing can be daunting for anyone.

It can be even more so for low-income families in Gilroy, many of whom speak only Spanish.

For the next five years, tax help will be close to home for such families living in the Glen View neighborhood. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is using a $900,000 grant to expand tax preparation services into Gilroy starting Feb. 1, through April 12.

“Without knowledge of some of the tax code, they may not be aware that they are actually eligible to get some money back if they fall below a certain income level,” said Maribel Andonian, communications director for Catholic Charities.

The agency will offer two tax classes next month, followed by free tax preparation during March and April – all located at the First 5 family academy center, 485 Eighth St., next to Glen View Elementary School. The five-year grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will also bring the “Tax EZ” program to two other neighborhoods in San Jose.

Both tax classes will be conducted in Spanish and free childcare will be provided. The first, on Monday, Feb. 1 from 6:30 to 7:30pm, will teach tax basics, such as who needs to file taxes and why, said Mariah Busta, program manager for Tax EZ. The second class will provide details on claiming different tax breaks, particularly the earned income tax credit for very-low-income earners.

People who earn from less than $11,500 to less than $34,500 with more than one child can receive from $390 to $4,300 back.

“That’s money in their pockets,” Andonian said.

From March 15 through April 12, low-income families in the Glen View area also may drop by the First 5 building to have their taxes prepared for free by Internal Revenue Service-certified preparers.

No appointment is necessary for free tax preparation, and taxpayers need to bring a photo ID; all W-2s and any 1099s; Social Security Cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers for all family members; and bank account and routing numbers if they want direct deposit.

Focus is on Glen View’s neighborhood because of the high level of need there; A Glen View Alliance of five community agencies formed three months ago to bring school preparation services to families with young children. The Knight Foundation provided the $2.3 million grant that got the alliance off the ground, as well.

“Glen View is a low-performing school, as it also has a high amount of poverty and a high density of children in poverty, so they really wanted to focus their effort in this neighborhood,” said Larry Drury, executive director of Go Kids, Inc. “We are focusing on trying to identify those children and helping families, as well as their formal and informal providers, to enrich the learning and prepare the child before kindergarten.”

The child development center is spearheading the alliance’s effort and conducting outreach for the tax program, distributing fliers in the neighborhood and at the school. The Tax EZ program will promote the alliance’s goal of serving the area’s families in need, Drury said.

“Really, it is a multi-pronged approach,” he said. “We are bringing in the specialized services, with the same ends, focusing on the same families.”

Besides the Gilroy and two San Jose neighborhoods, Catholic Charities will offer the Tax EZ program at its administrative headquarters as it has in the past, Busta said. The agency’s goal is to serve 500 families this year, and more in 2006, she said.

For more information on the free tax preparation, call 325-5124 or e-mail [email protected]

Get free tax help

– Free tax help for low-income families:

– Feb. 1, 6:30pm to 7:30pm: Participants will learn how to declare money for taxes

– Feb. 8, 6:30pm to 7:30pm: Participants will learn how to claim child tax credit, how to file taxes for undocumented immigrants

At FIRST 5 family academy center next to Glen View Elementary School. Free child care will be provided

– Free tax preparation services and information:

– Tuesdays, 4:30 to 7:30pm from March 15 through April 12

At FIRST 5 family academy center next to Glen View Elementary School; No appointment necessary. Call 325-5124 for more information.

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