The Free Mobile Tax Clinic is parked outside of the Multipurpose Building in Maywood last Saturday. Below, the inside of the vehicle. | Michael Romain/VFP
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Last Saturday, Maywood village officials were offered a tour of the Free Mobile Tax Clinic, an initiative of the Center for Economic Progress (CEP). The organization provides free tax and financial services for low-income, working families.
The vehicle may seem like no more than a nicely illustrated RV from the outside, but the inside is equipped with small consulting stations that can be curtained off when necessary and a pop-up conference room.
This tax season, CEP volunteers and staff members will be inside of the mobile unit to offer free tax services to anyone with an income of less than $30,000 a year and to households with annual incomes of less than $55,000.
Appointments will be held on Feb. 18 and March 18. Although the services are free, participants are encouraged to register beforehand. See the flyer below for more information.
The initiative is the result of a collaboration between CEP, the Village of Maywood, the Monroe Foundation’s Stable Project and Proviso Township.
Last tax season, CEP leveraged nearly 700 volunteers to prepare over 18,600 federal tax returns, an effort that yielded nearly $29 million in tax refunds for the organization’s clients, according to documents found on CEP’s website.
The organization has fielded tax sites in Chicago and areas throughout the state, including Springfield and Evanston, but it’s just now starting to get a foothold in Proviso Township.
“We’ve had an interest in serving this community for some time,” said CEP President and CEO David Marzahl during a gathering of community leaders held at the Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, before last Saturday’s tour of the mobile tax unit, which was parked right outside of the building.
“We do a lot of work in the city and suburbs and this region is under-served dramatically across the board,” he said. “For us, this is an opportunity to acknowledge Maywood and other villages [in the area].”
Marzahl said that CEP is also in conversation with Proviso Township High Schools District 209 about providing financial services to students and families. The mobile tax unit, he said, has the capacity to setup at different sites in the village, including Village Hall, in front of schools and at summer festivals.
“We appreciate you coming out and being apart of our village,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins to Marzahl. “The citizens of Maywood need this. We’re looking forward to bringing this on line so our citizens can benefit from it.”
CEP officials on hand Saturday said that the mobile unit would do more than provide tax relief. The vehicle would also be the site for much-needed credit improvement services and general financial consultation.
“This mobile unit is not just a bus, it’s an opportunity to bring much-need services to Proviso Township,” said Juan Villalobos, CEP’s director of community engagement and strategic partnerships.
“When we embarked on this journey we knew we had to hit the ground running and start building strong partnerships in these communities,” he said. “We bumped into Otis Monroe [founder of the Monroe Foundation] at the right time to make this connection. We also had some really good conversations with a few organizations in Melrose Park that opened their doors to us.” VFP
More info on the Free Mobile Tax Clinic below: