January 12, 2006
HUD-IRS PARTNERSHIP HELPS LOW-INCOME WORKING FAMILIES CUT
THEIR TAX BILLS AND PUT CASH IN THEIR POCKETS
Thousands eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it
HOLYOKE, MA - Today, officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) joined Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan and members of the Holyoke Earned Income
Tax Coalition to launch an outreach initiative to help low-income working families save thousands of dollars on their annual income taxes through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax assistance.
Last year, HUD and the IRS launched a partnership to help low-income working individuals and families - many of whom are beneficiaries of HUD services and programs - to save money on their annual income taxes through the
On January 21, the Holyoke Tax Coalition, a joint effort of the Mayor's Office, the Valley Opportunity Council, the Massachusetts Justice Project and other local agencies, will begin offering free tax preparation services in Holyoke
for families with household incomes of less than $35,000, and individuals with incomes less than $15,000. This
service is free and at no cost to the taxpayers.
"At HUD we serve people who rely on assistance just to make ends meet, but many of them do not take advantage
of this credit," said Taylor Caswell, HUD's regional director. "Whether saving money for a downpayment on a house,
or to pay their rent, or to splurge on something a little extra, every dollar counts."
The EITC does not affect eligibility for low-income housing, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or food stamps.
According to William Smits, IRS territory manager, "One of IRS's important objectives is to assure people get the benefits they are entitled to. By partnering with HUD and all of Mayor Sullivan's EITC Coalition sites, we hope to educate the public about EITC and put more money into the pockets of working families."
Last year, Holyoke's two sites served approximately 1,000 taxpayers who received more than $583,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits. This figure does not include the 15 percent Massachusetts credit that can be claimed on the state tax return. The average federal refund was more than $1,200. Thousands more Holyoke-area families are
eligible for this credit and don't claim it - possibly because they are unaware of this benefit. The HUD-IRS
partnership aims to educate the public, particularly lower income families of the significant tax savings available to them.
At the free sites, professional tax professionals and volunteers work together to prepare and file tax returns electronically, ensuring they are filed safely and quickly. People typically receive their refunds in 5-10 days. The Coalition's goal this year is to prepare 2,000 free tax returns.
Holyoke sites for free tax preparation for low-income families and individuals are: 57 Suffolk Street, 300 High Street, and this year the Holyoke Housing Authority has joined the Coalition and will offer free tax preparation at the brand-new Churchill Community Center.
Income and family size determine the amount of the EITC. For example, if you are a working family and you earned less than $37,263 in 2005 and lived with two or more "qualifying" children, you can receive up to $5,060 in federal
and state credits.
If you are a working family with one "qualifying" child and earned less than $33,030 in 2005, you may receive up
to $3,061. If you are single or a married working couple with no children and earned less than $13,750 in 2005, you can receive a credit of up to $459.
This local effort follows a partnership agreement made by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and IRS Commissioner
Mark Everson in December, 2004. In a joint signing ceremony, the two officials said the interagency agreement will improve services and coordination to reach millions of low-income taxpayers nationwide.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as
well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.