When taxes are done correctly, the result for low-income residents can mean valuable tax credits and refunds that go a long way in a family’s annual budget.
For instance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that helps qualifying individuals (in 2014, those who earned less than $52,427 who are married and have three or more children, or less than $14,590 and do not have children) get up to $6,143 in refunds. But one in five taxpayers don’t claim the tax credit, because they are simply unaware or don’t file their taxes, according to the IRS.
However, getting your taxes done can be expensive, especially for low-income families. That’s why Campaign for Working Families operates 20 community based tax sites in Philadelphia which offer e-filing as well as public benefits screenings for SNAP, LIHEAP, Medical, and CHIP. Free tax preparation services are available to families who earned less than $53,000 in 2014 or individuals with an income under $20,000.
“We have tons of families here in the city of Philadelphia and in the region who are really struggling. So if you can save a family 500 dollars and you say to that family, you can now pay your electric bill, you can buy shoes or food or warm coats for your child, rather than having to pay a preparer to do that work when we’re here and we can do it for you,” said Mary Arthur, executive director of Campaign for Working Families. “We’re all IRS certified. We are very dedicated to the mission of Campaign for Working Families and that is to help families retain their tax credits.”
In addition, other services offered at the tax sites this year include the purchase of savings bonds, pre-paid debit cards, and screening for public benefits in partnership with the IRS, the City of Philadelphia and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
One thing Arthur said that Campaign for Working Families was struggling with was getting its trained volunteers to dedicate some of their time this tax season.
“This year, we’ve done a lot of training, but we’re having a difficult time getting volunteers to come out,” Arthur said.
“It’s too early in the season for us to be closing our doors so early because of lack of volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone, and we really depend on them.” she added.
From our Partners
The locations of the Campaign’s free tax preparation sites are available on the cwfphilly.org or by calling 311. In partnership with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, it also operates 10 free tax sites in southern New Jersey, which can be found at www.UnitedForImpact.org/VITA or by calling 2-1-1.
Interested volunteers can visit the Campaign for Working Families website for more information.
Image via United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-30-
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