Between February 1 and March 20, CAP & AARP Tax Aide volunteers helped 682 people complete their returns, bringing $1.1 million into our community!
This is more than all the money that came from the 993 returns they helped complete last year, and there is still three weeks to go to file, says Byron Held, coordinator of the Tax Aide volunteers in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.
Of that $1.1 million, $340,000 is Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), which is a tax break for qualifying people who work but have low wages.
Byron, a retired chemist who has been helping people with their tax returns for the past 10 years, is encouraging people to claim their Earned Income Tax Credit. “Many workers are eligible for this tax credit and don’t realize it.”
The IRS estimates that twenty percent of eligible workers do not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can put anywhere from $2 to more than $5,000 into their pockets. In 2009, $70 million in tax credits went unclaimed in Washington State. Since then, there has been a greater effort to help people claim their tax credit when filing taxes.
Says Liz Myntti, manager of CAP’s Financial Independence Center, “We’re getting the word out to people: You earned it. Now file, claim and get it. That’s good for the family and good for the community.”
Liz recalls one man who came into CAP who had been told that he owed $900 to the IRS. But through the free tax assistance, he claimed his Earned Income Tax Credit, and rather than having to pay, received a $2300 tax refund.
Contrary to popular opinion, people do not have to have children to claim EITC, but they must file federal income tax returns and specifically claim the credit.
Locally, 14 trained AARP Tax Aides are available to assist people of all ages and incomes at three sites:
Fridays & Saturdays, 12:30 – 4:30 PM at the Longview Public Library
Tuesdays & Thursday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM and Thursday, 4:00-7:00 PM at Lower Columbia CAP, 1526 Commerce Ave, Longview, WA
Tuesday evenings, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Fibre Federal Credit Union, 796 Commerce Ave (Administration building), 2nd floor.