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Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Ladder Up Kicks off Tax Season with Free Help for Thousands of Taxpayers

February 5, 2019

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb 5, 2019--Ladder Up, a non-profit organization providing free financial programs including tax return preparation for eligible individuals, is kicking off the 2019 tax season this week. The majority of its community tax sites were recently opened last weekend, and it will be celebrating its annual month-long Tax-A-Thon campaign on Saturday, February 9, with a special, extended-length tax preparation event made possible with support from Citi Community Development.

Ladder Up, together with Center for Economic Progress (CEP), an organization that it acquired last fall, engages IRS-certified volunteers each year to help thousands of eligible taxpayers secure critical tax credits and refunds. More than 1,400 volunteers help low-income Illinois taxpayers prepare their tax returns, while also providing financial resources and opportunities to help them become more financially resilient and move up the economic ladder.

This tax season, Ladder Up, with support from Citi Community Development, aims to increase the number of families and individuals receiving free tax help, as well as raise awareness of critical tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can total more than $6,400 per return. Unfortunately, one out of five people who qualify for the EITC does not claim it and in Illinois, 55 percent of taxpayers who do claim the EITC file their taxes through a paid preparer, which can cost more than $150 per return.

“We understand the allure of going to a commercial preparer that offers clients the opportunity to get a portion of their refund faster, but unfortunately, that cash advance often comes with a hefty fee which is paid in addition to the tax preparation fee. Eligible taxpayers can save on those fees and get the same great service by coming to our sites,” said Christine Cheng, Ladder Up’s Executive Director. “For many of our clients, a tax refund is the biggest paycheck of the year. We believe they should keep as much of their refund as possible so they can pay their bills and save for the future.”

Last year, with the support of its volunteers and partners, Ladder Up and CEP prepared over 29,000 tax returns last year, securing more than $46 million in refunds for clients. The 2019 tax season is the first in which new tax reform laws take effect, and client demand is projected to remain high.

“Free tax preparation services and access to the Earned Income Tax Credit help enable eligible workers to pay down debts and save for the future,” said George Wright, Director, Chicago Market Manager, Citi Community Development. “By supporting free tax preparation and campaigns to increase awareness of vital tax credits for more than a decade, Citi has and will continue to help boost economic resilience for Chicagoans that need it most.”

“When our tax sites reach capacity, we have to turn clients away, so we’re encouraging volunteers to come out during the most critical time of the season. We don’t want people to have to spend money they don’t have just to pay someone to file their taxes, when we can do it for free, particularly this year, when preparation costs may go up due to changes in the formatting of the 1040,” said Lilly Lavner, director of Ladder Up’s Tax Assistance Program. “In addition to being a great way to give back to the community, serving as a tax preparation volunteer is a great way to sharpen your professional skills and interact with like-minded people.”

In addition to free tax preparation for individuals with incomes up to $30,000 and families with incomes up to $55,000, the event will include prizes, refreshments, a kids’ activity table, and more. Clients can find more information about eligibility and what to bring at www.goladderup.org.

Clients will also have the opportunity to connect with Ladder Up’s Save Up program staff to discuss asset-building resources, the local IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, and representatives from John Marshall Law School’s Fair Housing Clinic and a tax clinic for more complicated tax problems.

The event will be held at Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn, Chicago, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All client services are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and the site is expected to reach capacity well before 1 p.m.

Taxpayers who are unable to attend the Tax-A-Thon kickoff event can have their tax return prepared free of charge at any one of Ladder Up’s 28 tax sites, located in Chicago, its suburbs, and the Springfield area through the filing deadline of Monday, April 15, 2019. Site hours and locations are available at https://www.goladderup.org/locations

About Ladder Up Ladder Up provides hardworking people with the financial resources and opportunities they need to move up the economic ladder. Founded in 1994, Ladder Up provides free financial programs to help clients secure the tax refunds they deserve, gain the knowledge to navigate today’s complex financial systems, and obtain financial aid to make college dreams a reality.

In the fall of 2018, Ladder Up acquired the Center for Economic Progress, which will enable the organization to provide expanded tax, financial education, and asset-building services and add legal aid to the organization’s program portfolio.

Since the Center for Economic Progress’ founding in 1990 and Ladder Up’s founding in 1994, the two organizations have generated a combined total economic impact of $1.15 billion.

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CONTACT: Kate Hermann Stone


773-606-6326Erin Farrell Talbot

Farrell Talbot Consulting for Ladder Up





SOURCE: Ladder Up

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PUB: 02/05/2019 08:30 AM/DISC: 02/05/2019 08:30 AM