Heart of Florida United Way offers Free Tax Assistance

Heart of Florida United Way Urges Central Floridians to Claim Their Earned Income Tax Credit Starting Feb. 4

Half Billion Dollars Returned to Central Florida in 2012; Yet One in Four Eligible Aren’t Claiming!

At a time when thousands of Central Floridians are struggling to pay for rent, food, utilities and other basic needs, Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) is helping qualified residents claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Recognized for helping lift more children out of poverty than any other federal program, the EITC allocated more than $550 million in refunds throughout Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties in 2012.

This year, Earned Income Tax refunds range from $487 to $6,044. However, the Internal Revenue Service estimates that one in four qualified Central Floridians failed to claim EITC due to lack of awareness.

To ensure that residents receive their full credit amounts, nearly 30 free tax preparation sites will be available from Feb. 4 to April 15 through Heart of Florida United Way’s partnership with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.Heart of Florida United Way

“If people can wait a few weeks for the VITA sites to open, they can potentially save hundreds of dollars,” said Mark Batchelor, manager for financial stability outreach at Heart of Florida United Way. “While many will want to claim the credit as quickly as possible, they should be aware that many non-VITA sites offering free tax services often include only Form 1040EZ – and charge extra for the forms needed to claim the EITC or other deductions.”

More than $2.5 billion in EITC refunds have been claimed regionally over the past seven years, and there is potential for even more. 

“Many Central Floridians don’t realize they’re eligible, including those who didn’t qualify before but are now working part-time or in lower-paying jobs,” added Batchelor. “We encourage residents to check into EITC because free money is on the table – you just need to claim it.”

To qualify for EITC, recipients must have received wages at some point last year, with both earned income and adjusted gross income less than:

·         $46,227 ($51,567 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

·         $43,038 ($48,378 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

·         $37,870 ($43,210 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

·         $14,340 ($19,680 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

“For those who are struggling to pay for housing, utilities, food and other basic necessities, an additional $6,000 is a potentially life-changing sum,” said Robert H. (Bob) Brown, HFUW president and CEO. “And since most EITC dollars are spent on goods and services right here in our community, local merchants and businesses also benefit.”

In addition to the tax preparation sites, HFUW now offers text alerts to inform taxpayers of important filing deadlines, locations and hours of their nearest free VITA tax assistance site. To receive the alerts, simply text “mymoney” to 898211.

For more information about EITC, visit www.hfuw.org or dial 2-1-1.

 

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