The cost of these rapid refund loans is usually around $100, but during tax season can be as much as five times higher. In addition to these costs, the interest on these loans can be as high as 800 percent. In the year 2000, 52 percent of Baltimore EITC filers used these commercial preparers even though free services were available.
The Baltimore CASH Campaign, a local coalition, observed that the tax credits are helping boost the income of Baltimores poorest residents, but suggested the need for more access to free tax preparation services.
To qualify for an EITC, families must earn less than $33,178 (or less than $34,178 for married workers in 2002) and have two or more children. In addition, Maryland is among a number of states that offer a state-level earned income tax credit, with this years valued at $660.
Taxpayers can obtain information on locations for free filing of their tax return by calling 410-685-0525 (local to Baltimore) or 1-800-492-0618 (toll free, for the rest of the state).