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Step Forward offers free tax preparation services to Cuyahoga County residents

Tax season can be a stressful time for many individuals and families, especially for those with limited income.


Tax season in the United States typically runs from January to April. During this time, individuals and businesses are required to file their tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).


Individuals review Step Forward materials.

“Filing taxes is a legal requirement for most working Americans, including those who earn an income through wages, self-employment, investments, or other sources,” Karen Moore, one of Step Forward’s Family Development Specialist, said. “Individuals who receive certain types of income, such as unemployment benefits, dividends, or rental income, are also required to file taxes.”


Understanding complex tax laws and regulations can be challenging, which is why Step Forward provides free tax preparation services to income-eligible residents in Cuyahoga County.


“Our free tax preparation services are designed to help individuals and families navigate the tax filing process with ease,” Moore said. “By providing that assistance, we ensure that our clients receive personalized attention and accurate tax preparation. Our trained volunteers work diligently to maximize refunds and ensure that our clients receive the most money back possible.”


One of the key benefits of Step Forward’s free tax preparation services is that many of the clients discover they qualify for a refund. In 2023, Step Forward provided personal income tax preparation at no cost to 188 Cuyahoga County residents. Statistics show more than 80 percent of the clients qualified for a refund, providing them with much-needed financial relief.

Individuals review finances.

In addition to providing free tax preparation services, Step Forward also offers financial education and resources to help clients make informed financial decisions. The goal is to help clients with their immediate needs, such as tax preparation, but also empower them to achieve financial stability and security for the future.


In 2023, Step Forward began a new program, which offered individuals the opportunity to become certified IRS Tax Preparers. The certification program offered basic certification courses essential for entry into the field. It also allowed the preparers to receive on-the-job training, helping Step Forward clients prepare their taxes. The certification program was so successful, Step Forward offered it again in 2024. The program was available at no cost to those who registered. 

Step Forward's VITA Tax Preparer Certification Training flyer

“This program opens up opportunities for supplemental income in the future,” Kerry Austin, Step Forward’s Interim Director of Professional Development, said. “Graduates of the program are well-prepared to serve their communities by providing accurate and reliable tax preparation services, helping individuals and families maximize their refunds and navigate the tax filing process with confidence. By becoming a certified tax preparer, participants can build a rewarding career path and make a positive impact on their community.”


Cuyahoga County residents in need of tax preparation services can make an appointment at Step Forward’s Neighborhood Opportunity Centers located at 1801 Superior Avenue in Cleveland or 763 East 200th Street in Euclid. Tax days are offered twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on selected Saturdays.


“Don’t miss out on building a brighter financial future,” Moore encouraged. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of this valuable service.”


For most taxpayers, the deadline to file their personal federal tax return or request an extension to file is April 15, 2024.

Step Forward's tax preparation services flyer

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