IRS no longer offering free tax preparation help

CREATED Jan. 29, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - A blind Fort Myers man says he got an email from the IRS, saying they are no longer offering free tax preparation services. It's a service he says he's used every year, so Fox 4 reached out to the IRS to find out why the sudden change.

"Due to resource constraints and we've seen fewer returns prepared in the past in some of our walk-in offices, tax return preparation will be no longer a service that we will be able to offer," Michael Dobzinksi, a Spokesperson for the IRS of Florida, said.

Fort Myers is one of 50 other offices across the country that are no longer offering free tax preparation help. The IRS says the budget is tighter than ever and a growing number of people--more than 80% of taxpayers--are filing electronically.

"For any people who are upset about this change, what would you like to say to them?" Fox 4 asked.
 
"We can understand some people are disappointed, but it was necessary that we had to do this and we still intend people will be able to get the service that they need," Dobzinksi said.
 
That's where organizations like the United Way come in.
 
"We do free tax preparation for low to moderate income in Southwest Florida area," Amy Singer, the Community Programs Manager for United Way, said. 
 
To qualify, your family must make less than $58,000 a year. This year, United way is working with partner organizations like the Lighthouse of Southwest Florida to help the deaf and blind who used to rely on the IRS for help.
 
"We would treat them like any other tax payer would, we would go through an interview process with them and service them as best as we could," Singer said.
 
United Way has 12 locations where they are offering free tax help. You can call 211 from any phone for more information or to schedule an appointment. You can also log onto www.myfreetaxes.com/ or www.irs.gov/