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Groups promote tax relief program PDF Print E-mail
Written by T.V. Floyd   
Friday, 18 January 2008
The sounds of partying whistles and horns that celebrated the New Year have been replaced with the constant tapping of calculator keys, carefully adding itemized deductions on 1040 forms throughout South Florida.

From now until April 15, accountants, bookkeepers and other tax preparers will endure marathon nights to ensure that their clients file their 2007 income taxes on time.
This year, the once-dreaded process to meet Uncle Sam’s deadline will be more beneficial to some families who qualify for desperately needed tax relief in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“Anyone hoping to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit must first file their tax return,” said Andre Williams, president of the Miami Gardens Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), which is co-spearheading a campaign to inform residents about the additional dollars that are available.

“The credit is still available to them, even if they have filed their tax return and neglected to file the proper paperwork for the tax credit,” said Williams, who is also a Miami Gardens council member.

Williams, a Harvard grad, said a family can receive more than $4,700 extra through the program. For a family trying to make ends meet, that money could prove to be very beneficial, he said.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is available to anyone working and raising children in their homes. Applicants must earn less than $35,263.

Others who qualify must be at least 25 years old and younger than 65, not raising children in their homes, and earn less than $11,750.

“In many cases, the EITC and the income tax refund are the single largest amounts of money that some of these families receive in a calendar year,” said Williams, who is also a real estate attorney and owns a Liberty Tax Service franchise in Miami Gardens. “Our campaign is aimed at educating the public about the credit so they can use those funds to reinvigorate the local economy.”

At least one mother in Miami Gardens has taken advantage of the EITC. She has used the money from the tax credit to defray the cost of general living expenses.

“It added about $300 to $400 to my return,” said Shantrell Miller, 27, who is raising two girls ages two and 10. “I was able to get clothes and shoes for my kids. I started using the tax credit about seven years ago, as soon it was available for me.”

Others have been using it longer and receiving heftier refunds.

“I have been using the tax credit for 15 years now,” said Lilliech Evans, 62, of Margate. “You get some money to do some things. I get $2,000 more.  It helps with lunch money and books.  The Earned Income Tax Credit gives you incentive as a single parent.”

The EITC campaign is fueled by organizations and community groups that have a vested interest in making their areas economically viable. They are using every method possible to increase local consumer spending to jump start their economies.

The War on Poverty-Florida stands alongside the Jaycees in this campaign. The two-year-old statewide organization joined the effort as part of its overall strategy to build wealth through assets.

“We actually did a study in Boston, Mass., which looked at the assets and the resources in the community.
What they found was around $37 million being lost to unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credit in that area,” said War on Poverty-Florida community organizer Amanda Hood. “We want people to claim those funds because they could be used for a down payment for a home.

“We are trying to increase the awareness that this money exists,” she added. “While it is a new campaign with a four-year life span, we are hoping that the success of the program will help it continue longer.”

For more information about the Earned Income Tax Credit, please call 305-649-1313.

What you need to file for the tax credit

•Valid picture identification
•Prior year’s tax return
•W-2’s for you, your spouse and your children
•Correct birth names and Social Security numbers or ITIN cards for you, your spouse and children
•Information about childcare (if used)
•Your bank routing and account number (for direct deposit)
•Education credit (1098T or 1098E)
•Information about the following income forms:
- 1099 (self-employment)
- Unemployment
- Interest, pension and/or retirement
- Annuity and rental property
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