By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Sixty-eight percent of those eligible for free tax preparation services are instead paying to get their taxes prepared.

But now Mike Schuh reports on the expansion of a program which, in 11 years,  has saved people in our area more than $10 million.

In the offices above Mondawmin Mall, Errigh LaVoo is on a hunt for money. Last year he paid someone to do his taxes.

“I paid $100 for tax preparation,” said Lavoo, who works two jobs.

That’s low. The average for his income is $150-200.

But this year neither Lavoo nor his girlfriend will pay a penny, as the Baltimore Cash Campaign will do their taxes for free.

“You can’t beat free,” he said with a smile.

“The cash in our name stands for Creating Assets Savings and Hope, and we provide free tax preparation for low and moderate income families in Baltimore City and County,” said Sara Johnson, Baltimore CASH Campaign.

The 200 volunteer preparers have put in at least 12 hours of training– volunteers like Tiffany Yep.

“It’s been amazing,” said Yep, who during the week works in international finance. “No matter where they are or where they come from we get really great clients with a positive response from our work.”

This program is getting more popular. They served 8,500 clients last year and expect to serve 9,000 this year.

It’s a service only available for those with lower incomes.

It’s supported by governments and foundations for simple reasons: “When your money is tight, you’re vulnerable,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

LaVoo, for one, is thankful.

“The economy is crazy now. If it’s to BGE, then into helping for rent or into the account for a rainy day,” Lavoo said.

There are 18 sites in the city and two in the county where these free tax returns are prepared. To see the full list and make an appointment,  click here.


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