I live in Houston and need my income tax return prepared but can't afford it. Can I get it done for free?

Yes, you can if you are low or moderate income. And they will even e-file it for you so you can receive your refund quickly.

The law school that I attended (many, many years ago), South Texas College of Law (STCL) has clinics to help low and moderate income people with income tax preparation and e-filing.

The college’s VITA Program will be offered every Friday from 2 p.m.-7p.m. through April 10, though there will be no service available on Friday, March 20. It is provided at South Texas’ Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics at 1303 San Jacinto in downtown Houston.

Returns are prepared by supervised law student volunteers who have obtained IRS certification as tax preparers. The law student volunteers, who work under the supervision of Bruce McGovern, South Texas associate dean and professor, assist individuals in preparing and electronically filing their federal income tax returns.

The service is free to individuals and families whose income generally is $53,000 annually and below. Appointments can be made by calling 713-659-8040, extension 1538, and walk-ins also are welcome. Spanish and Portuguese language assistance is available, but by appointment only.

Those wishing to participate in the program should bring: Proof of identify, such as a valid driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID; W2 and any 1099 forms; Social Security or ITIN number cards for all family members; a copy of last year’s tax returns if available; total paid for daycare provider in 2014 and provider’s tax identifying number; any other tax documents, and a personal check to allow for direct deposit of a return.

This free service is an initiative of the Tax Law Society at South Texas College of Law/Houston. Last year, law student volunteers prepared more than 70 tax returns and helped individuals obtain more than $100,000 in federal income tax refunds.

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization