Bank Helps Out with Annual Free Tax Program for Low-Income Residents
March 15, 2007
The "save it" part often gets forgotten in the annual Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EIKISI) free tax preparation program for low-income families. The emphasis this year is on informing people about how to make their tax refunds do more.
Sixteen employees of The Mechanics Bank in Richmond have volunteered to provide free financial counseling along with free tax preparation during the fourth annual EIKISI Contra Costa Campaign, which runs through April 14 throughout Contra Costa. Free tax preparation services are available at 12 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, which are in Antioch, Brentwood, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Oakley, Concord, Richmond and San Pablo. Financial counseling can be arranged at most of the sites.
EIKISI Campaign Manager Lloyd Madden said the financial counseling is a great service and hopes more businesses will get involved.
"We want to encourage these hard-working families and individuals to look for ways they can save and invest at least part of their refunds," Madden said. "The IRS is offering taxpayers more options for direct deposit of their refund, allowing tax payers to split their refund between several accounts, such as checking and savings. Hopefully, this will provide an incentive to families to save."
The Mechanics Bank employees in West County regularly volunteer with EIKISI. Every year, more employees get involved, said Erwin Reeves, Vice President of Community Development at The Mechanics Bank. Reeves encouraged his bank to get involved in EIKISI, and he volunteers every weekend himself.
"It's part of our corporate identity. When our employees see there is something we can do to help the community, we typically get a good response," Reeves said. "We feel good about helping people to start building a more favorable financial situation for their family. We've actually had people come back to the North Richmond VITA site who have been able to buy a home."
Depending on family size, households earning $39,000 or less can receive up to $4,536 in tax refunds, such as the federal Earned Income Tax and Child Tax Credits. EIKISI helped 1,987 families and individuals claim $2.5 million in refunds last year, Madden said. The average refund was $1,200 last year.
EIKISI is sponsored by the Family Economic Security Partnership (FESP), a public, private and nonprofit collaboration including Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department, Contra Costa Health Services, United Way of the Bay Area, First Five Contra Costa, IRS, and East Bay Community Foundation.
For more information on EIKISI VITA site locations and hours or what documents people need to bring, visit: www.cchealth.org or call 800-358-8832. Language interpreters also will be available at some sites.
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