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Taxing time: But there’s help in Lehigh — and it’s free

February 8, 2017
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

This is Mary Meador's fifth year as head of the United Way's free tax preparation program in Lehigh Acres and already she and others are working with people to get them a refund.

Each year the limit on income to be eligible for the free service grows higher with this year's limit at $62,000 or less.

The United Way is located at Lehigh Community Services, at 201 Plaza Drive, Suite 103.

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Mary Meador prepares income tax forms free for residents.

Meador and her fellow tax preparers - all certified by the Internal Revenue Service - volunteer their services on Wednesdays and Fridays beginning at 5 p.m. and sometimes on Saturdays.

Mador says she enjoys helping others.

Another tax preparer, Marlene Hodges of Lehigh, said she enjoys volunteering to do taxes because she also likes to help people in the community.

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Maria Otero, administrative assistant at Lehigh Community Services, said there are a lot of people on a waiting list. To have your taxes done, call 239-369-5818.

The deadline this year for filing is April 18.

Otero said you will be asked to fill out a yellow form that asks for information about yourself needed by the tax preparers.

"They started doing returns in late January and already we have appointments well into February," Otero said.

She also noted that it sometimes costs up to $300 or more for lower income taxpayers to have someone do their taxes.

Meador noted that the volunteers have gone through extensive training with the IRS and are certified for the free filing. Some have worked for the IRS.

Meador is a teacher at Lehigh Acres Middle School and said she enjoys giving of her time.

She looks over the tax returns prepared by her volunteers, then sends them electronically to the IRS so they get there faster.

She noted that if someone obtained a person's Social Security number, the victim could have a problem with identity theft.

The United Way has sites all over Lee and brings in millions of dollars in refunds each year.

Charlotte Rae Nicely, executive director of Lehigh Community Services, is happy with the program and that it is the fifth year the United Way had made it possible.

Nicely said refunds are pumped back into the local economy and that is good news for Lehigh.

Otero suggested that those who want their taxes done should call and make an appointment.

She added that they should bring the necessary documents, such as identification, Social Security cards for all family members, and W-2 and 1099 forms. If you want your refund direct deposited, bring your bank account information, too.

Bring in anything that you feel may affect your taxes, she said.

"We will put you in the computer at a time that fits your schedule," Otero said.



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