Upper Room Ministries to offer free tax services

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Free tax filing assistance through The Ohio Benefit Bank will once again be available at Upper Room Ministries, 3090 S.R. 59 in Ravenna.

Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, home of The Ohio Benefit Bank, Upper Room Ministries will be able to expand tax filing services for the 2012-13 tax season.

"With the assistance of this grant, we are able to assist more clients this year. We had more calls for tax assistance than we could handle. Our focus this year is to help more people get their refunds," said Toni Brown-Harris, site administrator for the Ohio Benefit Bank program at the church.

The Ohio Benefit Bank is an innovative online service that connects Ohioans with more than 20 work support programs and tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, child tax credits, and education credits.

Ohioans can visit sites like Upper Room Ministries to file their federal and state taxes for free with a trained counselor, or they can file on their own at www.ohiobenefits.org.

In 2012, Upper Room Ministries served about 40 residents of Portage County. This year, they hope to expand services to offer the free tax services to about 115 residents.

Residents interested in making an appointment to have their taxes filed or complete other benefit applications through the OBB can call 330-296-2178.

Appointments are available from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. There will also be two Saturday tax clinics, one on this Saturday and another on March 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., by appointment only.

Community members interested in volunteering as OBB counselors may call Lizzetta Mosley at 330-296-2178 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays or Russell Allen, regional coordinator at 614-221-4336, ext 241.

Upper Room Ministries has been serving the Portage County community with the Ohio Benefit Bank since 2006. Including tax and benefits services, Upper Room offers a monthly "Seeds of Harvest" Food Pantry on the last Wednesday of each month and a Summer Children's Lunch Program and Summer Kids Camp.

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