Mayor Promotes Free Tax Preparation Sites
Mayor John Hickenlooper and City Council President Elbra Wedgeworth joined representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and the Denver Asset Building Coalition on Wednesday to promote Denver’s free tax preparation assistance sites for low-income residents, including non-English speaking taxpayers, individuals with disabilities, and senior citizens. The news conference was held at the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development’s Youth Workforce Center on the Community College of Denver’s east campus, 3532 Franklin Street, a location that doubles as a free tax preparation site on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
“We want to ensure that struggling families and those hit worst by the economic downturn take full advantage of all the tax credits available to them,” Mayor Hickenlooper said. “This important community-wide effort aims to put more money in the pockets of lower income 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, in 2003, earned less than $34,692. In 2001, the most recent tax year for which data is available, there were 55,736 EITC claims in Denver. The average EITC in Denver last year for individuals and families earning less than $35,000 was between $1,500 and $1,600.
It is estimated that low-income Denver residents lose an estimated $8 million 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.
Roughly 80 city employees responded to the Mayor’s call this year to volunteer at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to ensure that Denver’s low-income residents take full advantage of the federal EITC.
There are 31 free tax preparation sites in Denver, and a total of 93 throughout the entire metro region – including sites in Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Conifer, Englewood, Evergreen, Golden, Highlands Ranch, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Longmont, Louisville, Northglenn, Parker, Thornton, Westminster, and Wheat Ridge. Taxpayers can call 303-832-2557 or 1-800-829-1040 to locate the closest free tax help location to their neighborhood. Colorado tax assistance sites can also be searched by zip code on the Piton Foundation’s web site at www.piton.org. Many of the sites offer free electronic filing services as well as Spanish-speaking staff.
When seeking assistance at a free tax preparation location, individuals should bring the following: this year’s tax package received in the mail (if available); 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; a copy of the IRS letter indicating any Advance Child Tax Credit Refund received in 2003; your spouse, if filing jointly; a copy of last year’s tax return if available.
The Denver Asset Building Coalition (DABC) provides free tax preparation, financial education, and financial services through accessible sites in Denver to help the underserved build an economically stable future. DABC is a coalition that began with the Piton Foundation, Denver’s 7 (KMGH-TV), and the Internal Revenue Service SPEC Office, and has grown to include U.S. Bank, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, AmeriCorps, and many other partners listed at www.denverabc.org
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