Bringing dollars home to local families
Since 2003 we have prepared more than 27,000 tax returns for working families and individuals and returned more than $49 million in refunds to taxpayers who support our local economy.
Our goal is to help all eligible workers claim the credits they deserve without tax preparation fees and to assist them in turning tax refunds into financial assets.
Current Free Tax Preparation sites are located at our Main Branch in the City of Ithaca, and at our partner sites in Brooktondale, Danby, Dryden, Groton, Newfield, and West Danby. We serve low-income people throughout Tompkins County.
In 2014 (2013 tax year) we began coordination of Cortland County's Free Tax Preparation Program. The program goals are to:
- Provide free income tax preparation for local, low-income households.
- Increase awareness and utilization of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Care Credit, and other financial strategies and asset-building opportunities.
Eligibility is determined by Income Guidelines published annually.
Since 2009, 2-1-1 volunteers have scheduled Free Tax Preparation appointments. 2-1-1 Information and Referral Services are provided by the Human Services Coalition. Outside of Tompkins or Cortland counties, the toll-free number is (877) 211-8667.
Ways to save more
The Tax Savers Program is a club account available to anyone whose tax return is processed by Alternatives' Free Tax Preparation Program. Earn 10% APY.*
- Minimum deposit: $200 via your tax refund or personal funds
- Maximum deposit: $500
- Maximum dividend: $50
*Tax Savers Club must be open for one full year to earn 10% match. APY = Annual Percentage Yield.
Do I have to be a member?
No. As a satellite of the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, requirements for receiving free tax preparation are determined by income, not Credit Union membership.
Volunteer as a Certified Tax Preparer
Are you detail-oriented? Do you like helping people? Over 60 volunteers a year contribute to the success of our program. Volunteers devote hundreds of hours to helping their neighbors claim all available refunds and credits. Our volunteer base includes retirees, college students, and professional accountants. Every return you prepare will be checked on-site by a Quality Reviewer for accuracy. Quality Reviewers are also available to help with questions and complex situations.
Volunteer as an Intake Coordinator/Greeter
Are you good with people, even if you don't like math? Intake Coordinators help keep the site running smoothly and make our clients and tax preparers happy.
The Free Tax Preparation Program gratefully accepts tax-exempt donations to Alternatives Impact, our 501(c)3 affiliate. Contact Impact@alternatives.org to make a gift, find out about sponsorship opportunities, or provide feedback.