United Way offers free tax service

United Way of Merced County is partnering with the Internal Revenue Service and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance to offer free tax-preparation services to Merced County residents who meet specific requirements. Locations are in Merced, Winton and Los Banos.

Residents must have a household income of less than $52,000 in 2013. In addition, residents might qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and could qualify for up to $5,891 in additional refund money, according to a United Way press release.

Tax preparation is provided by IRS-certified volunteers who prepare the tax returns and file them electronically on-site.

Carol Bowman, executive director of United Way of Merced County, was upbeat about the number of people taking advantage of the free service.

“We assisted 580 people last year,” she said, “with refund totals close to $880,000,” according to the release.

Tax service locations are open now through April 12. Locations for residents to receive the free tax preparation are United Way of Merced County in Merced (209) 383-4242, Senior Community Center in Merced (209) 385-8803, Lifeline Community Center in Winton (209) 358-6939 and Salvation Army in Los Banos (209) 827-4945.

Because tax preparation service hours vary, contact a location for details.