MADISON, Wis. (1/31/08)--With tax season underway, credit unions are helping members and low-income individuals prepare their returns. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has proclaimed today as EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 30). “The EITC can be a first step toward financial stability, enabling working families to save for college, develop a small business, or put a down payment on a home,” he said. “Many eligible Texans do not claim almost $1 billion each year in EITC funds due to limited community awareness and lack of access to free tax preparation sites.” Pacific Service CU, Fresno, Calif., is partnering with the United Way of Fresno County to offer free tax preparation assistance for individuals with low-to-moderate incomes. The Fresno branch of the credit union will host United Way volunteers to work with individuals on their returns and applying for EITC. Volunteers will work Saturdays at the credit union from Feb. 2 to April 12. “Working with the United Way will help low-income individuals navigate through the process and they won’t have to pay the fees associated with commercial tax preparers,” said Steve Punch, Pacific Service CU president. AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., also is helping low-income individuals with its “Money in Your Pocket Campaign,” which offers free tax assistance to low-income families. The program, sponsored by the credit union and the Community Action Commission, starts Friday and will end April 11. Participants can have their electronic returns prepared at no cost by United Way and Community Action Commission volunteers (Life is a Highway Jan. 29). Wisconsin credit unions are offering free tax preparation for individuals with low-incomes, the disabled, the elderly, and those with limited English proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Credit union volunteers will assist individuals at free tax preparation sites around the state that are operated with the Internal Revenue Service, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Michigan credit unions launched the 2008 Just File It! program. More than $700,000 in tax credits and refunds have been provided to Michigan residents through 140 participating credit unions. The program is available through online software that many credit unions, including United Educational CU, Battle Creek, Mich., have linked to their websites (Michigan Monitor Jan. 28). The Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association announced two fax fairs for those who cannot afford tax services. U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will host her eighth annual Tax and Information Fair Feb. 9, and the Baltimore CASH Campaign Money Power Day 2008 is scheduled for Feb. 16. The Baltimore event provides consumers with money management workshops, credit counseling and free tax preparation, according to the association (Focus Jan. 28).