City partners with United Way, kicks off annual campaign to help Detroiters get millions in Earned Income Tax Credit refunds

Friday, January 19, 2018

Editor’s note: This press release was issued by the City of Detroit.

The City of Detroit is stepping up its efforts to get residents to apply for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), hoping to repeat last year’s success when eligible Detroiters received $74 million more in their 2017 state and federal tax returns than in 2016. The effort led to 18,150 more Detroit residents claiming the EITC on their 2016 tax returns. Prior to the city’s push last year, Detroiters left upwards of $80 million dollars unclaimed.

Today, Mayor Mike Duggan joined with Accounting Aid Society (AAS), the IRS, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Quicken Loans and community organizations to remind residents that they have to claim their credit again this year in order to get the refund they are due.

“Detroiters work hard and should get every tax benefit available to them, but for way too long they’ve not filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Mayor Duggan said. He spoke during the launch of the outreach effort at one of Accounting Aid Society’s Drop & Go tax sites on the first floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Room 124. “The tax credit can mean the difference in their ability to stay in their homes, pay their utility bills or even put money aside for a rainy day.”

“Those who are regular recipients of the EITC will file their taxes as soon as possible,” said Lisa Howze, Director of Government Relations and leader of the EITC initiative for the Mayor’s office. “This year, we wanted to ensure that we reached more Detroit residents early in the tax season and provide them with access to free tax assistance, allowing them to maximize the use of their tax refund.”

Eligibility and benefits of filing

The EITC is available to working families and individuals who meet certain income requirements. The amount of the refund depends on income, filing status and the number of qualifying children taxpayers claim as dependents on their returns. But in order to receive the credit, you must file a tax return, even if you don’t owe any taxes or are otherwise not required to file.

For example, a single individual age 25-64 with no children who works a part-time, minimum wage job and earned $8,300 in 2016 could get back as much as $510. A married couple with three or more children who file a joint return, with combined income of $23,000, could receive the maximum EITC of $6,318.

In some cases, eligible taxpayers may receive more in their refund than they paid in federal taxes.

“I strongly encourage all eligible Michiganders to take advantage of this important tax credit,” Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri said. “This puts extra income in the pockets of individuals and families most in need. My department stands ready to help the City of Detroit’s efforts to ensure residents claim their share of these dollars.”

“When you work collaboratively to benefit families, everyone wins,” said United Way interim CEO Tanya Heidelberg Yopp. “Last year’s EITC campaign in partnership with the city and our funded partner Accounting Aid Society resulted in an additional $4,000 on average to eligible households. We are committed to expanding our referral efforts, via 2-1-1, as well as funding for free tax prep services to ensure that even more residents who qualify have opportunities to keep more of what they earn.”

With the addition of Quicken Loans as a new partner, the opportunity to create synergies between the EITC program and efforts to help identify taxpayers who may be eligible for a Property Tax Exemption is incredible.

“Tools that increase resources for low-income and working families, like the EITC, are powerful forces of stability for our city residents, neighborhoods and communities.” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of Strategic Investments for Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund (QLCIF). “We must continue to leverage the EITC and the Property Tax Exemption – a complete exemption of property taxes for those under the poverty line – in order to keep people in their homes and support wealth generation.”
Accounting Aid, which has trained hundreds of volunteers to assist with free tax preparation sites citywide, has accepted the responsibility to continue to work collaboratively with Quicken to leverage resources and identify the overlap between the two initiatives.

Expanded outreach efforts

Accounting Aid has partnered with the City to prepare the EITC and other tax credits, along with local, state and federal tax returns, as a free service for low-income working people at more than 30 locations across Detroit, which can be found at www.claimyourrefund.com. This includes eight additional Drop & Go tax sites where residents can have their tax documents scanned by volunteers and prepared remotely for later pick-up without the taxpayer having to be present during preparation.

“The EITC is an important tax benefit for working people and their families, and it is a refundable credit, which means that you may get money back even if you do not owe any tax. But to get the EITC, you must file a tax return and claim it,” said Accounting Aid Society President Kathleen Hatke Aro. “We want to make sure more people know about the EITC and take advantage of it along with the other refunds and credits they may be entitled to receive. Accounting Aid is excited to be part of this collaborative effort because we believe that everyone should have access to trustworthy tax and financial advice.”

“If you work hard but don’t make a lot of money, you may qualify for the EITC,” said Luis Garcia, IRS Spokesperson for Michigan. “It can mean the difference between continuing to rent or a down payment for a house. It can mean having enough money to buy a car to get to a better job.”

“Goodwill Detroit is grateful for Mayor Duggan’s leadership in this effort and pleased to partner again this year,” said Dan Varner, president and CEO of Goodwill Detroit. “EITC can be a valuable resource in helping working people and their families achieve economic stability. We’re committed to doing our part to educate our Detroit community on the benefits of this program.”

The city thanked Bloomberg Associates, Quicken Loans and Cities for Financial Empowerment for their contributions and support of the initiative. Again this year, OUTFRONT Media is providing at no cost to the city 30 billboards encouraging residents to file for the tax credit.

Detroiters looking for more information on how to take advantage of the EITC can visit www.claimyourrefund.com.