The YWCA Evanston/North Shore, in collaboration with National Student Partnerships-Evanston, is offering free tax preparation assistance to low income individuals and families from Evanston and surrounding communities.

Individuals with an income under $20,000 in 2008 and families with children whose income was $38,000 or less qualify for the program.

Most taxpayers who qualify for this assistance will also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The tax credit has been praised as the most effective way of lifting a family above the federally defined poverty line, yet only 20 percent of families qualifying for it actually apply for it.

“Part of our mission is to focus on economic empowerment,” says YWCA Executive Director Karen Singer. “By working with NSP to help more people in our community access the mechanisms within the tax code that promote economic stability, we can have a greater positive impact on the lives of those who are struggling to be financially independent.”

National Student Partnerships is an organization dedicated to engaging college students in combating poverty.

Talented student advocates work side-by-side with low-income individuals to address immediate needs and chart a sustainable path out of poverty. NSP-Evanston has been working in the Evanston community since 2000 and its Northwestern University volunteers have been providing tax services since 2005.

Volunteers from NSP will be available by appointment at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore at 1215 Church St. in Evanston on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; from Feb. 2 to
April 10 at their offices, 1615 Oak Ave., and on Saturday, April 11 at the Evanston Civic Center.

Qualified applicants should call 847-864-3530, ext. 209 for an appointment.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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