Mayor Hickenlooper Promotes Free Tax Preparation Sites, Earned Income Tax Credits

Mayor Hickenlooper Promotes Free Tax Preparation Sites, Earned Income Tax Credits

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Liz Alkire, Division of Workforce Development

Mayor Hickenlooper Promotes Free Tax Preparation Sites, Earned Income Tax Credits

21 Denver sites can help low-income workers reap thousands of dollars in federal tax credits
(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper and City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth joined The Piton Foundation, Mile High United Way and members of the Denver Asset Building Coalition on Wednesday to promote Denver’s free tax preparation assistance sites and the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income residents. The news conference was held at the King Trimble Center, 2980 Curtis St., a location that will double as a free tax assistance site on Monday through Thursdays evenings and Saturdays through April 17.

“We want to ensure that struggling families take full advantage of all of the tax credits available to them,” Hickenlooper said. “This important community-wide effort aims to put more money in the pockets of taxpayers.”

A powerful work incentive and antipoverty tool, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable credit offered through the Internal Revenue Service to working families that earned less than $37,263 in 2005. In 2002, the latest year for which information from the IRS is available, there were 58,000 EITC claims in Denver totaling $94 million in EITC refunds. Statewide, 246,000 taxpayers in urban, rural and suburban areas received almost $400 million from the tax credit.

It is estimated that low-income Denver residents lose an estimated $13,920,000 per year in unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). Additionally, many families that apply for the EITC pay someone to complete their tax forms, which can cost $150 or more and takes away from the value of the EITC. By coordinating a region-wide volunteer effort to provide free tax preparation help, the Denver Asset Building Coalition – a consortium of community organizations – seeks to help taxpayers claim this money. Taxpayers can learn more about the EITC by calling 211, the statewide hotline linking callers to health and human services resources, or through The Piton Foundation’s Web site.

There are 21 free tax preparation sites in the City and County of Denver, 57 in the metro area, and approximately 100 sites across the state. Colorado tax assistance sites can be searched by zip code on the Denver Asset Building Coalition’s Web site.

The maximum income to qualify for the EITC the 2005 tax year ranges from $11,750 for a single person to $37,263 for a married couple with two or more children. The average refund is $1,600 but can be as much as $4,400. However, people often are unaware of the credit, don’t know how to apply or are intimidated by the tax return form. An estimated 15 percent of eligible taxpayers don’t receive the credit.

“We are determined to make everyone in Denver and Colorado aware of this and other tax credits like the Child Tax Credit, Saver’s Credit and education credits,” said Sam Gary, board chair for The Piton Foundation.

For 16 years, The Piton Foundation has conducted a statewide public information campaign, distributing over a million pieces of information through public and private health and human service agencies, schools, congregations and employers across Colorado.

This year the program also will be publicized on RTD buses and through television advertising. The City has distributed information about the credit with employee paychecks, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce sent a letter from Mayor Hickenlooper to 2,400 Denver businesses asking them to inform their employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit. Denver Public Schools will send information home with 73,000 students.

Additional partners in this year’s campaign include AARP, H&R Block, Colorado Saves, Rose Community Foundation, US Bank and the Internal Revenue Service.

When seeking assistance at a free tax preparation location, individuals should bring the following: Social Security number cards or ITIN cards for all family members; all W-2, 1099 and/or other income forms; information for all deductions and credits if available; bank account and routing number, if seeking a direct deposit; your spouse, if filing jointly; a copy of last year’s tax return if available.

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Posted on Feb 08, 2006 (Archive on Mar 10, 2006)
Posted by kpellegrin  Contributed by kpellegrin