“I never thought it would be so hard to get people to have something done free.”

Maxine Nelson, Arkansas chairman of ACORN, expressed that thought Friday during a press conference for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about the EITC and the availability of free tax preparation services.

Officials also announced the Super Saturday Free Tax Preparation Event, which takes place today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center, 211 W. 3rd Ave., in meeting rooms A and B. Certified tax preparers will be on hand to prepare and e-file tax returns.

Nelson, along with Gene Higginbotham of Rep. Mike Ross’ staff, the Rev. Jesse Turner of Pine Bluff Weed & Seed/ICVR Inc., and Blake Williams of Southern Good Faith Fund, announced the event.

Taxpayers need no appointment for this affair. They should bring all W-2 forms for 2008, photo ID, Social Security cards for themselves and dependents. They should also bring all applicable tax forms, such as 1099-MISC, 1098-T (out-of-pocket college payments) and 1098 (mortgage interest payment). Other information to bring includes proof of childcare payments from the provider, 2007 tax returns and bank account information, interest income (from your bank or other investments) and statement(s) of charitable/church contributions.

In addition to today’s event, the coalition offers four sites where tax preparations can be done free for families with an annual earned income of $42,000 or less. However, appointments are necessary. These are the sites and their hours through April 15:

# ACORN Tax and Benefits Center, 104 S. Main St.; 536-6300; Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

# ICVR Inc./Weed and Seed VITA Center, 2003 N. University Drive, UAPB Plaza Suite 5; 536-7274; 10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Wednesday, and 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday.

# Southern Good Faith Fund, 2304 W. 29th Ave., 535-6233, ext. 0 or 10; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; by appointment only.

# St. James United Methodist Church, 900 University Drive, 536-6366; Monday through Friday by appointment only, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, walk-ins accepted.

Ross, in a statement read by Higginbotham, said that the earned income tax credit is one of the largest benefit programs for working taxpayers, but it is also one of the most overlooked. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit, which could net as much as $4,824 for a family with two children.

According to the IRS Website (irs.gov), to qualify for the EITC, taxpayers must meet these thresholds for 2008: earned income and adjusted gross income of $38,646 to $41,646 with two or more qualifying children; $33,995 to $36,995 with one qualifying child; $12,880 to $15,880 with no qualifying children. The higher income in each category is for couples filing jointly. The maximum credit ranges from $4,824 to $438. There are also restrictions on allowable investment income.

In addition to the EITC credit, the tax preparers can also help those who did not receive their rebate recovery credit, Nelson said.

“I see this as a positive outreach for the citizens of Pine Bluff, especially low-income citizens,” Nelson said.