Local residents claim more than $2 Million in tax credits

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Press release from the United Way of Allen County:

Local residents claim more than $2 Million in tax credits

Newly compiled statistics show that low- and moderate-income Allen County residents claimed more than $2 million in tax credits this year, thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit program. A total of 4,977 local residents received free tax assistance provided by 125 IRS trained and certified tax volunteers. More than $2.1 million was returned to these residents this year as part of the Earned Income Tax Credit program; this represents a $400,000 increase over last year’s amount. The program also saved customers more than $170,000 in tax preparation and e-filing fees.

The program is coordinated by the Financial Stability Partnership, which is led by the Volunteer Center @ RSVP and United Way of Allen County. Residents earning less than $49,000 annually may qualify for the EITC and can be eligible to receive more than $5,000 back in tax credits. As much as $6 million in tax credits go unclaimed in Allen County each year. The trained volunteer tax preparers worked at Community Action of NE Indiana, St. Mary’s Church and the Euell A. Wilson Center.

The AARP Tax Aide program also plays a big role in helping residents file their tax returns for free. Bill Knorr, the district coordinator for this program, reports that 54 certified tax counselors prepared 3,807 returns at 18 sites in Allen County. This program provides assistance to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention given to those 60 years and older.

“Our volunteers really enjoy the process of helping people with this sometimes confusing tax process,” said Jean Joley, Volunteer Center @ RSVP executive director. “We have had a great response in our first year of providing tax preparation to active, deployed and reserve Military families. We now have the ability to provide Military Tax assistance on a year-round basis.”

“This EITC program is a great example of what United Way is all about – bringing local organizations together to help people in need improve their lives,” said Ron Turpin, board chair for United Way of Allen County. “Each year, this program grows more successful and we’re able to help more people claim the tax credits for which they’re eligible. The program helps ease the financial struggles of local residents and frees up additional dollars to help them meet their basic needs.”

This year people were surveyed when they sought the free tax help and among the findings:

  • Seventy-nine percent earned less than $25,000 a year.
  • Fifty-four percent of those surveyed a have a high school diploma or less.
  • Fifty-one percent had no health insurance for themselves or their families.
  • Seventy-two percent planned to use their refund to pay bills.

Many local organizations assisted with the EITC effort. Funding comes from the City of Fort Wayne Community Development Block Grant program, the Catholic Campaign for Human Dignity, the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Indiana Association of United Ways. Members of the Financial Stability Partnership include: Volunteer Center @ RSVP, United Way of Allen County, Community Action of NE Indiana, St. Mary’s Church, Euell A. Wilson Center, Hispanic Leadership Coalition, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, Internal Revenue Service, American Red Cross – Multicultural Exchange (MIX), FW Police and Firefighters Credit Union, First Source Bank, Consumer Credit Counseling, U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar’s Northeast Indiana Community Service Center, AARP, and the City of Fort Wayne.

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