Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Just-A-Start offers online tax help to low- to moderate-income earners. (Photo: stevepb via Pixabay)

Just-A-Start, a Cambridge nonprofit developer, has launched a free remote version of its tax preparation services to help income-qualified taxpayers file returns during the pandemic.

For the past three years, tax prep has been a walk-in service at the nonprofit’s 402 Rindge Ave., North Cambridge, office; because of the pandemic Just-A-Start decided to help filers virtually, though it’s watching coronavirus case counts and hopes “to offer limited in-person service later this spring” for filers who need extra help, said Theresa Sullivan, an agency communications manager. (Last year’s lockdown interrupted service and forced a “hybrid” format, she said.)

Any Greater Boston resident with income of $56,000 or less can take advantage of the free service. Certified volunteers will help filers gather information, prepare and submit a return and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit to maximize savings, the agency said in a Tuesday email.

“Tax time can be difficult for filers even in a more typical year, but the pandemic has left even more people in need of trustworthy, accessible tax help,” said Carl Nagy-Koechlin, executive director of the nonprofit. “Loss of income, unemployment benefits, stimulus payments and gig economy work can all be complicated to navigate from a tax perspective. It’s important for people to receive the refunds they’re entitled to without needing to pay for costly or unreliable preparation services.”

Last year, Just-A-Start’s tax site helped more than 250 filers, producing more than $550,000 in taxes paid and helping participants access over $352,000 in Earned Income Tax Credit refunds, the nonprofit said.

“Even people who are overwhelmed by years of back taxes or errors on previous returns can come to us and successfully find a solution,” said Ian Davis, its financial opportunity program coordinator.

The tax preparation process is at for secure virtual appointments until April 15. The tax site is certified by the IRS.