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Huge turnout at tax-help event leaves many flood victims empty-handed

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BATON ROUGE –So many flood victims showed up to have their income taxes filed at an event organized by the United Way that many families had to leave empty-handed.

The Capital Area United Way offered a free tax-help event Saturday for those who needed assistance preparing their taxes. The event, Super Tax Day, featured certified tax volunteers, pro bono legal advice, financial workshops and other community resources for residents to get their taxes done for free.

The turnout was so huge, not everyone could get the help they needed. Those who weren't fortunate enough to be assisted had to be booked for another day.

Lorenzo Lafleur and his family came out to the Main Library to get help with income taxes.

They lost everything in the flood.

"I want to know is there is going to be some type of way to write it off. Some kind of way to help us out, to get back on our feet," Lafleur said.

He is not alone.

"With flooding, I think there had been a spike in the demand for low or no cost tax preperation services," George Bell with the United Way said.

Income taxes are confusing. Factor in all of the flood victims and filing is even more complicated.

FEMA and flood insurance money are not taxable and you get a big write off for uncovered flood damage.

"If you loss is greater than your income, than you income goes down to zero. So anything the government or employer withheld, you get it all back," tax preparer Jim Haslitt said

Some of these tax preparers are employees of Entergy who are volunteering their time to help people in need file their taxes.

"These employees see such a great need in doing this in their community, that they went out and got certified to do these tax returns," Kristin Masoner with Entergy said,

Like most of the folks who showed up, Lafleur couldn't get help this day. Instead, he has to hope he can get his taxes done at a later date.

To get free help filing your income taxes, you can dial United Way's help line at 211 or log onto entergy.com/freetaxhelp

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