On January 31, 2008, Mayor Shirley Franklin and the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, a coalition of local nonprofits, government and corporate groups, announced the kick-off of this season’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits program in a press conference at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services offer free tax preparation to individuals, families, or married couples whose households earned less than $40,000 in 2007. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits offer qualified taxpayers, refunds of up to $4,500.
The Partnership’s kickoff comes as part of the IRS’ national EITC Awareness Day, and encourages local residents to utilize Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to see if they are qualified to receive the EITC and other benefits.
Qualifying families with two or more children can receive refunds a high as $4,716. For those who qualify but have failed to claim the credit in prior years, they may apply for the EITC retroactively for a period of up to three years, for up to $12,000. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will also be offering the Split Refund Option, which gives taxpayers the option of having their refund directly deposited in up to three financial accounts, such as checking, savings, and retirement account, which can help them build assets and financial security.
“The EITC is an investment in our working families, our city and our nation, and this campaign marks another step in the journey to help these families begin to build wealth and assets,” said Deborah Lum, Executive Director of the Atlanta Workforce.
In addition, qualifying low to moderate-income taxpayers can visit VITA sites to receive free tax preparation and e-filing services, which save them more money and expedite the filing process, so that these individuals and families can receive refunds. To qualify for these services and tax credits, claimants must be qualified working U.S. citizens and legal residents with valid Social Security numbers. If a legal resident with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) meets all of the qualifications, they too are able to retroactively claim the EITC for a period of up to three years once they receive their valid Social Security number.
The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency and the Mayor’s Office of Weed and Seed, were recognized by the IRS as having the #1 VITA center during the 2007 tax filing season, having prepared the most returns in the metropolitan Atlanta area and for being the only one with hours most conducive to the community needs. The center served over 620 clients with an average EITC credit of $1,410.
“The EITC and the VITA programs are very important to Atlanta. Not only do they impact our hard working families, but they also impact the local economy”, said Mayor Franklin.
The benefits for children and working families are clear:
* A family with two or more qualifying children who earn less than $37,784 (or $39,783if married and filing jointly) are eligible for up to $4,716;
* Families with one qualifying child who earn less than $33,241 (or $35,241 if married and filing jointly) are eligible for up to $2,853; and
* Single workers who have no children and earned less than $12,590 (or $14,590 if married and filing jointly) and have no qualifying children are eligible for $428.
“The Prosperity Campaign is designed to empower low-income residents of Metro Atlanta to increase their earnings and build assets. The campaign seeks to integrate and improve existing economic and educational support systems that promote long-term family self-sufficiency and food security,” said Bill Bolling, executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
For more information or to see if they qualify, individuals and working families can go to www.atlantaworkforce.org or visit the VITA Center located at 818 Pollard Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia, 30331.
Photo top: City resident Robert Watson speaks to attendants on finding out about EITC and the assistance it provided in helping him to purchase a home.
Photo center: Bill Bolling, Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Susan Carroll, Director of Customer Assistance, Relationship & Education (CARE) for the Internal Revenue Service, Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Deborah Lum, Executive Director of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency.