News release from United Way of Coastal Fairfield County:
On Friday, January 27, 2016, at 10:00am at Housatonic Community College, members of the Greater Bridgeport Family Economic Security Coalition, coordinated by the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), will kick-off the start of the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) season. VITA is a program sponsored by the IRS, where trained volunteers prepare and file state and federal returns for low-moderate income families for free. Families who had an income of $54,000 or less in 2016 may qualify for free tax preparation services.
Last year, trained VITA volunteers in Bridgeport prepared 2,648 tax returns, returning $4,780,118 in state and federal refunds to local families including $1,677,541 in federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) which may have otherwise gone unclaimed. The Connecticut EITC provides an additional credit for working families which is 27.5% of the federal EITC. This tax credit helps low-income working families with children have more money for monthly bills, pay off debt and to save for emergencies.
The IRS wants to remind taxpayers that a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. In addition, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be releases and processed through financial institutions. Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of February 27.
“We are pleased to be able to offer families and individuals who qualify, free tax preparation and filing.” said Jim Horan, Chief Executive Officer of CAHS, an organization that helps to coordinate the VITA campaign across the state. “This is an important service and offers a significant savings to those who are challenged by the extra expense of tax season. In addition to free tax services, CAHS also offers educational programs that help build long-lasting financial stability.”
Residents can call 2-1-1 or visit www.211ct.org, the United Way’s free information hotline to find our more information or to locate the closest location. For more information about federal or state EITC eligibility, residents can visit www.irs.gov or www.ct.gov/drs/eitc.
“United Way recognizes that many of our neighbors struggle to make ends meet. They are challenged to pay basic bills while saving for emergencies and other needs,” noted Cathy DeCesare, Senior Vice President, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. In 2016, United Way released an update to its ALICE report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), which highlighted the increase in struggling families throughout the state of Connecticut. Nearly 1 in 4 families are challenged to pay for food, housing, transportation, healthcare and childcare. We believe it is important to support the VITA free tax preparation program which provides the opportunity for working families to realize and secure the tax credits and refunds they are entitled to.”
To help families trying to save their tax refund dollars for a rainy day or unforeseen expenses, CAHS encourages income tax filers at VITA sites to direct deposit their federal and state refunds into both checking and savings accounts.
This year’s VITA campaign is made possible through the generous support of the following funders: United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Wells Fargo, Citi Community Development, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, People’s United Bank Foundation, The Inner-City Foundation for Charity & Education, Near & Far Aid, and Signature Bank Foundation.
About the Connecticut Association for Human Services
The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, uniquely combines outreach into working poor communities at the neighborhood level with broad-based policy work at the state and federal level. Founded in 1910, CAHS is focused on helping families and children build the skills and assets they need for lasting economic success, strengthening Connecticut’s economy, and improving its workforce. In addition to advocacy and outreach, CAHS publishes consumer guides, policy briefs, and KIDS COUNT, a highly regarded data and policy book supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more about CAHS, please visitwww.cahs.org.
About United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission is: “Together, we mobilize our communities to improve people’s lives.” Our vision is that all at-risk children in Coastal Fairfield County are successful in school and prepared for success in life. United Way of Coastal Fairfield County serves the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton. Find out more at our website at www.unitedwaycfc.org, and follow us on social media @UWCFC.