Thursday, January 13, 2005

Put Money in Your Pocket

People who work for a living in Toledo can feel it. As wages have stagnated, the tax burden for lower and middle income folks has risen. Our progressive tax system in Ohio erodes yearly as corporations and wealthy citizens see their tax burden shrink - shifting it to the rest of us.

And the rub...too many lower and middle income taxpayers are not getting the full credit and tax refunds we legally deserve. Robbing our local economy of an influx of money.

As the 2005 tax season gets underway, the City of Toledo and the Economic Opportunity Coalition are teaming up once again for VITA - the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program. The cornerstone goal is to offer free, fast and electronic income tax filing - insuring people who qualify take the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Even if you don't owe income tax, you can get the credit and cash.

Does your family earn up to $31,338 with one child? You may get up to $2,604 back.

Does your family earn up to $35,458 with more than one child? You could get as much as $4,300 back.

If your between ages 25 and 64, without children, and earning up to $12,490, you could get up to $390 back.

The IRS and City of Toledo Board of Community Relations, led by Juanita Green, are the catalysts for reaching out to Toledoans.

It is especially important that folks steer clear of RAL's - "return anticipation loans" - as the service fees and interest can easily consume much of lower income tax payers return. Check cashing places and some national and locally based tax preparation firms offer them.

This morning I attended a forum at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, in Cleveland, "The Earned Income Tax Credit: Connecting Working Families with Tax Benefits." One of the nation's leading scholar's on the EITC spoke first, Alan Berube, a Fellow at The Brookings Institution. The EITC matters, he presented, because: It rewards work and reduces poverty. It is a large Federal investment in cities economies. And outreach efforts like VITA are often the springboard to related policy and human and financial services.

Amy Hanouer, from Policy Matters Ohio, argued that the EITC is equally relevant to both urban and rural Ohio communities.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry to be anonymous, but for the time being, my identity is immaterial. I simply want to thank you for setting up this blog, and also thank you for raising the issue of tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit ("EIC"). As an employer of low-income people, I would be happiest if the market allowed me to pay a living wage, but at the moment I cannot do so and stay in business. The EIC is indeed the next best thing, and I wold like to see it expanded. I also despise the "Rapid Refund" nonsense from the chain tax preparers (I notice they don't call it that anymore), which is a rip-off of poor people, much like the "Check Into Cash" loan-sharking operation. We provide at our office a day in which our accountants provide free tax preparation for our employees. Our accountants are kind enough to devote that day at no charge to me, and that is a huge gift to the public good. I encourage other companies and professionals to step up and perform similar services to those most in need of advice and assistance from parties who are not trying to rip them off. That would be a real response instead of lip service. What a concept! Action instead of talk!

8:58 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

We will be ading the places and times for this service shortly

7:22 PM  

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