Annual Free Tax Preparation Program for Low to Moderate-Income Residents Begins
January 12, 2006
Single mother Janet Brown was in school working on getting a better job last year when she turned to a free tax preparation program for help getting her tax refund.
The Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EIKISI) Contra Costa Campaign assisted the Pittsburg resident in collecting more than $4,000 in tax refunds and credits. This year, she's volunteering with the third annual campaign, which assists hard-working, low to moderate-income families and individuals file their taxes and claim refunds owed to them, such as federal Earned Income Tax and Child Care credits. EIKISI starts Saturday and runs through April 15.
Households earning $38,000 or less can receive up to $4,400 in tax refunds - a significant amount of money for families struggling to make ends meet. Last year, the program helped about 1,700 Contra Costans claim more than $2 million, according to campaign organizers. Brown, 50, wants to encourage others to sign up for the program.
"I want everyone to know that the program works. Some people go to companies that charge to get your refund early but this program is free and that's money you can keep," she said.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is the federal government's largest work incentive program. People with children also may receive a child tax credit of up to $1,000 for each child under the age of 17, said EIKISI Campaign Manager Lloyd Madden. He urges workers to participate even if they don't make enough to be required to file with the IRS.
"If people don't file they'll miss out on a tax refund that is rightfully theirs. This program helps put their hard-earned cash back in their pockets," Madden said. Specially trained volunteers like Brown will provide the tax services at 12 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout Contra Costa.
Site schedules vary and some will be open weekdays, evenings and Saturdays. Locations include Oakley, Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Brentwood, Concord, Richmond and San Pablo. The first sites open January 14 at OPTIC, 3102 Delta Fair Blvd, Antioch (5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays), and Pittsburg One-Stop, 415 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg (5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays). Translators in several languages will be available at some sites.
For information on specific site locations, hours of operation and what documents people need to bring, download the flyer (107k PDF, 2pp.) or call 800-358-8832.
The EIKISI program is sponsored by the Family Economic Security Partnership (FESP). FESP is a public, private and nonprofit collaboration that includes the Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department, Contra Costa Health Services, United Way of the Bay Area, First Five Contra Costa, IRS, and the East Bay Community Foundation.
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