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Community Tax Aid, Inc. (CTA) was founded in 1987 by a group of tax professionals and concerned citizens who recognized a growing need for free tax preparation services for low-income taxpayers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area — a need especially great among taxpayers with limited education or English proficiency. The increasing complexity of the tax system, coupled with the struggles faced by taxpayers who have limited education, limited English proficiency, or are elderly and on a fixed income, meant that many taxpayers were falling through the cracks.

These taxpayers often were not filing returns because the process overwhelmed them, or they made attempts to file but made mistakes because they didn’t understand the instructions. The founders of CTA, recognizing how critical the preparation of a proper tax return was to attaining financial stability, began in 1987 with five storefront sites located solely in DC.

Within the next five years, CTA began operating sites in Arlington County in Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland, and by 2004, there were sites in Washington, DC, the City of Alexandria, and Arlington, VA and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, and Gaithersburg, Silver Spring/Wheaton and Prince Georges County in Maryland.

In 2005, CTA took over the operation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, the largest free tax preparation site in Washington, DC, and also provided training and support to three additional organizations providing free tax preparation assistance in Washington DC as part of the DC EITC Campaign.