Local program to provide free tax prep services

For the 24th year, low- and moderate-income residents in Boston will have access to free tax preparation services through Action for Boston Community Development.

The tax preparation program, run by ABCD in collaboration with the Boston Tax Help Coalition, offers free state and federal tax preparation assistance to Boston residents who earn $64,000 per year or less.

Sharon Scott-Chandler, ABCD president and CEO, said the program helps bring money back to Boston’s low- and moderate-income communities.

“We know there are lots of different pieces to anti-poverty work, but this is really an important tool,” she said.

Those efforts are focused around connecting residents with tax breaks and increasing tax refunds. ABCD reported nearly $5.4 million in refunds for program participants last year.

Scott-Chandler pointed to the Earned Income Tax Credit, an underutilized federal tax break for low- and moderate-income taxpayers, and the Child Tax Credit as two key tax breaks the program looks to use.

In 2023, 488 individuals filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit and 384 filed for the Child Tax Credit.

Participation in the program took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before 2020, ABCD was regularly helping over 5,000 people with their taxes each year. When services across the country shifted online due to the public health emergency, that number dropped by about half to 2,517, but has since been on the rise. In 2023, ABCD served just over 3,000 people; the Boston Tax Help Coalition reached nearly 11,000 overall.

This year, Scott-Chandler said she hopes they can reach even more people, with no specific count goal, just that “the sky’s the limit.”

“We know that people are out there,” Scott-Chandler said. “People have slowly been coming back in person.”

ABCD is running the program through its 11 Boston neighborhood sites and one in Malden. The services are offered by appointment only to make sure individuals bring all the documents necessary to complete their taxes. The program is regularly offered in eight languages, though Scott-Chandler said ABCD will work with translators to help other individuals.

Appointments at all the sites can be made by calling (617) 348-6329. Help is offered right up to the April 17 filing deadline.

The tax preparation services can also be applied for up to three years of back taxes, if residents failed to file their taxes in previous years, and Scott-Chandler encouraged individuals to take part in the Financial Check-Up Program, run by the Boston Tax Help Coalition, which guides participants through an examination of their credit report with planning on how to improve that credit.

Scott-Chandler said that, in combination, she hopes those services can help bring back resources to the Boston-area communities that need them.

“When you think about our communities and the lack of resources on a daily basis, and when you think about how much comes back into their pockets — to them, they’ve earned this money — it’s mind boggling on a big scale,” Scott-Chandler said. “It’s very important to each individual, no matter how much they get.”