The Internal Revenue Service has teamed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to expand the agencies' outreach to low-income taxpayers.

The partnership agreement signed by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson aims to assist low-income taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations by providing educational outreach, to help them get free tax preparation and free electronic filing of federal tax returns, and to offer information on tax credits such as the earned income and child tax credits. While 21 million low-income families qualified for the EITC last year, the IRS said that its own studies indicate that millions more are eligible but fail to claim the credit.

The IRS hopes that working with HUD will help it improve its outreach to and education of low-income taxpayers. HUD-funded housing authorities have 3 million low-income residents, many of whom may be eligible for certain tax benefits.

The IRS offers free tax return preparation for millions of low-income families annually  through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Under the new partnership, the two agencies can set up VITA sites at HUD facilities such as Neighborhood Network Centers and Family Investment Centers. In addition, HUD will notify all grantees and encourage them to assist the IRS with its outreach efforts and to educate taxpayers about free tax assistance sites.

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