New Haven helps low income residents file taxes
(1/29/2007) FOR MORE INFORMATION:
January 29, 2007 Derek Slap, Director of Public Information
203-946-7660, 203-804-1295 (cell)
CITY OF NEW HAVEN
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
165 CHURCH STREET NEWHAVEN, CT 06510
NEW HAVEN TO HELP HUNDREDS OF LOW-INCOME WORKERS PAY THEIR TAXES
Monday Event Marks Opening of Free Tax Centers
NEW HAVEN- Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., representatives from JUNTA, the IRS, and City Hall held a news conference on Monday, January 29, 2007 at 5pm at the Main Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm Street) to mark the beginning of this year’s free tax assistance program for low income residents and announce some major changes from the 2006 program.
The New Haven Economic Security Coalition (NHECS) sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which helped 773 New Haven residents claim $1.8 million in refunds and tax credits last year, will be expanded to serve hundreds of additional people, an increase of approximately 30-percent. Also new this year, volunteers will encourage filers to join a savings assistance program and returns without a social security number will be filed electronically.
“The free tax assistance program is getting bigger and better,” said Mayor John DeStefano. “We’re helping people, who work hard and pay taxes, put money back into their family’s pockets.”
The VITA program creates sites across the City where volunteers help low-income residents file their taxes for free, enabling them to claim all the tax deductions, credits, and refunds for which they are eligible. The average tax filer in New Haven who participated in the NHESC program last year claimed more than $2,300 in tax refunds. Residents are thus able to avoid the processing fees, and offers of high-interests loans, that often are associated with for-profit tax filing services. According to City Hall estimates in 2002 almost half of all low-income filers in New Haven, or 15,785 people, paid over $1.5 million in tax assistance fees.
For the first time, the VITA volunteers will be able to set up Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs. The savings accounts will help low-income residents afford a house, start a small business, or save for an academic degree by providing low-fee matched savings accounts. Most significantly Empower New Haven will contribute two dollars to the accounts for every one dollar that the resident deposits. Empower New Haven will also be providing financial management classes.
A further improvement this year is that the VITA sites will now be able to offer e-filing to people who don’t have a Social Security number, this can include undocumented immigrants. Residents can use an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to receive tax filing services. These tax numbers, which (unlike Social Security numbers) do not require U.S. citizenship or a valid visa, are used by many immigrants across the country to pay taxes. According to City Hall, more than 1.8 million people in the United States paid taxes using the ITIN in 2005. New Haven has the fifth most tax filers using ITINs in the state, at 766 residents. This constitutes 1.6% of all of New Haven’s tax filings, slightly more than the national average.
“This improvement will help people, regardless of their immigration status, meet their obligation to society and pay their taxes,” said DeStefano. “Hundreds of people in New Haven already use an ITIN to pay taxes but there are thousands more who should and don’t. My hope is this expanded VITA program will change that.”
This year, there will be six NHESC VITA sites across the City: at the Main Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, the Spanish American Merchant Association (235 Grant Avenue), the Wilson Library Branch of the New Haven Library (303 Washington Avenue), JUNTA (169 Grand Avenue), National Student Partnerships (178 Temple Street), and the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center (101 Ashmun Street). To see all locations, and to schedule an appointment, please go to the New Haven Economic Security Coalition website at www.nhesc.org. These free tax clinics are scheduled to run through April 17, 2007. People can call the United Way Info Line at 211 to find the site nearest you.
Contact Name: Derek Slap
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