United Way helps taxpayers get big refunds

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CENTRAL FLORIDA - The United Way wants to make sure taxpayers get the refund they deserve.

A lot of people have not taken advantage of a credit that could earn tax filers thousands.

The earned income tax credit is very often missed, and it amounts to a lot of money.

Every year, as tax season approaches, the United Way uses its 211 call center to bring big dollars to local families.

Last year, it amounted to about a half-billion dollars for residents in Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties.

"I didn't think I qualified, so I didn't ever bother to reach out," said taxpayer Teresa Martyny.

Martyny said she spent years not taking the credit, before finally calling the Heart of Florida United Way for help.

"When I found out I qualified, I was excited about not having to do my taxes myself. I'd been doing my taxes myself for years and it was kind of a pain to fill out the forms and all that information," said Martyny.

The free tax advice and preparation is included for those who qualify at about 40 locations throughout metro Orlando and the surrounding area.

People can qualify for the tax credit if they make as much as $43,000 and have three children.

Tax credits range from just below $500 to more than $5,700.

Also, WFTV found out that missed opportunities in years past can be filed again, up to three years retroactively.

"It does make a huge difference. This is the kind of money that can change lives," said Mark Batchelor of

Heart of Florida United Way.

The 211 number is not only for tax assistance, it is also for help with utilities and finding housing.