Step Forward offers tax preparation & free tax preparer certification training
The state’s largest Community Action Agency is offering income-eligible Cuyahoga County residents assistance with filing taxes.
Step Forward, the agency formerly known as the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland, provides a personal income tax program. Tax preparers help participants identify whether they are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit and enable each individual to retain all of their tax refund while avoiding preparation costs.
“Our Family Development Specialists take clients in Cuyahoga County and help prepare their taxes for free,” Travena Golliday, Step Forward’s Director of Neighborhood Opportunity Services, explained.
Golliday confirmed several people had already signed up to take advantage of the program. Individuals must make an appointment at one of Step Forward’s four Neighborhood Opportunity Centers. One such center is located in Euclid, at 763 East 200th Street. The center is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Tax days are typically reserved for Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Golliday explained. “We will also have volunteers available one Saturday per month through April.”
Typically, Golliday added, the initial intake appointment can take up to 30 minutes. Taxes are typically processed within two weeks.
This year, Step Forward is also offering its first-ever tax preparer certification course. Volunteers will receive online, virtual training to get their tax preparer certification through the IRS. Then, Step Forward will provide on-the-job training, offering program participants a chance to do tax reviews while working with seasoned tax professionals.
“The opportunities are endless,” Audrey Taylor, Step Forward’s Director of Professional Development, said. “One of the things they could do afterward is prepare taxes as a self-employed tax preparer. They could also work with agencies that prepare taxes in the area.”
The online course and on-the-job training is available at no cost to the volunteer.
“There are a lot of people looking for supplemental income, but they need the training. This is to get the knowledge and experience needed so you can be successful in the future,” Taylor said.
Similar to the tax preparation service that Step Forward is offering, the free VITA Tax Preparer Certification and on-the-job training is available through the end of April.
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