OK, some rebate checks
Tax Carnival #48: Presidents Day 2009

Wal-Mart: Always low taxes. Always.

That variation of the giant discounter's slogan might apply to its philanthropic arm. The Wal-Mart Foundation has awarded a $3.6 million grant to launch a free mobile tax filing program.

The retailer-supporter tax tour is a partnership of United Way and the nonprofit One Economy Corporation. According to Wal-Mart's announcement, vans equipped with online filing technology and carrying IRS-certified tax professionals will set-up in Wal-Mart parking lots, as well as at the offices of One Economy’s community partners.

Individuals earning less than $56,000 per year can visit the vans and file their taxes free of charge.

Walmart tax van map (4)

The Mobile Tax Center vans will be at the locations for two to three weeks at a time, between Feb. 10 and April 11. You can find van locations at www.myfreetaxes.com.

VITA help, too: In addition to the vans, some of the Wal-Mart money will go to more than 90 United Way-supported Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) campaigns.

The VITA program offers free tax help to low- and moderate-income people. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country.

VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. You can find the nearest VITA site by calling 1-800-829-1040.

EITC emphasis: Many of the individuals who get VITA help are eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Operators of the Mobile Tax Center vans expect that to be the case for its clients, too.

This a refundable federal income tax credit that could get qualifying taxpayers between $438 and $4,824, depending on filing status, income and number of dependent children.

Even before you head to a tax van or VITA site for help, you can see if you qualify for the EITC and, if so, how much you might get, by using the IRS' online EITC Estimator.

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