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Tax Help Offered Free to Employees

Curses. Handfuls of hair. Harried drives to the downtown post office just before the stroke of midnight on April 15. Such is the misery that consumes taxpayers each year as they struggle to complete their income tax forms on time.

But for some, filling out those diabolical forms will be a breeze this year—all thanks to a tax preparation service offered by the Hospital and Health System’s Department of Human Resources. 

The free service is part of the Baltimore CASH Campaign, a program that along with tax preparation helps low- and moderate-income families claim the earned income tax credit (EITC), a refund that will pay some up to $5,000, based on family size and income.

To be eligible, an employee and his or her family must have an earned family income of less than $38,000 in 2006. Employees call HR for an appointment, then gather together all the necessary paperwork. “Without the right records, the tax preparation cannot be completed,” says HR project specialist Shereen Jahed.

Specially trained and certified by Baltimore CASH Campaign, Jahed conducts interviews, fills out federal and Maryland state tax forms, and files them electronically. The entire process can take as little as an hour. Employees typically receive their tax refund within one week of filing.

Last year, HR filed 164 tax returns, generating almost $225,000 in tax refunds and more than $90,000 in earned income tax credit. The goal for this year: 200 tax returns. HR has only a few trained volunteers like Jahed, though, so calling early for an appointment is key. 

“Given today’s economy, it’s important that workers keep as much of their income as possible,” says Pamela Paulk, vice president for human resources. “This program not only saves them the high cost of tax preparation, but ensures that they get the EITC, if they’re eligible. This is a small way that we, as an employer, can show we care.”

—Lydia Levis Bloch

The free tax preparation service is offered only to Health System employees Mondays through Saturdays from Feb. 1 to April 1. Appointments: JHHSC/JHH Department of Human Resources, 410-614-3721.



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