Greetings, Assets Advocate.
March was a busy month for the NC Assets Alliance. We partnered with the NC Housing Coalition to host our two final forums in Asheville and Charlotte. The Outreach Committee is working on a a wrap-up document summarizing what we learned from the forums. Once it is completed, we will share with the membership and the community. Thank you to everyone who helped organize these events, thank you to the participants, and thank you to our funders: Bank of America, CFED, and the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation.
This month, we focused our newsletter on EITC and VITA. The official tax season is almost over, but as you all know, the work continues year-round to advocate for increasing the state and federal EITC and funding for VITA. Also, remember that April is financial literacy month
...a perfect time to think
about personal finance when many low income families see a significant boost to
their income in the form of tax refunds.
Please join us at our next quarterly meeting:
Thursday, May 6 10am-1pm: The meeting will be held at the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative: 5800 Farringdon Place Raleigh, NC 27609
. Please RSVP to Emila Sutton
. Lunch will be served.
Thank you for your continued support of the NC Assets Alliance!
North Carolina Assets Alliance
|Federal Asset Policy
Increase VITA Funding in North Carolina
It's Time to Scale Up!
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides a safe and cost effective alternative to self preparation, paid tax preparers and tax preparation software. In addition, volunteer tax preparation programs compliment IRS Taxpayer Services by encouraging voluntary compliance and offering an accessible alternative to other IRS service channels.
The National Community Tax Coalition is working in collaboration with National Disability Institute, the Real Economic Impact Tour, and United Way Worldwide to organize VITA Programs and advocate for this important funding increase.
We ask Congress to:
Appropriate $35 million in FY2011 for the VITA Grant Program
Allocate $5 million of this amount toward the creation of a National Center to Promote Quality & Evaluation of VITA, which will provide specialized technical assistance to programs
Take Action:Sign Your State Petition
Join VITA programs in your state as we advocate for more funding for the VITA Grant Program. This letter provided by the National Community tax Coalition, requesting much needed funding for the VITA Grant Program, will be sent to the North Carolina Congressional Delegation. Here is part of the letter:
"With 363 VITA sites in North Carolina during the 2009 filing season, many of our families count on the services of VITA. Community VITA programs offer free tax help and financial services to low- and moderate- income workers including persons with disabilities, the elderly, Native Americans, rural populations, and those with limited English-language skills. During the 2009 filing season, VITA programs across the country filed 1.2 million federal tax returns and prepared over 400,000 EITC returns, which helped workers claim $1.6 billion worth of federal tax refunds and saved families an estimated $220 million in tax return preparation costs."
Please ensure that the appropriate person at your organization or in your VITA Coalition signs-on to the letter. Also, if you have relevant statewide data that will enhance the letter, please email it to Lucy Mullany
. You will receive a final version of the petition.
For more information, and to view and submit the letter to North Carolina delegates, please visit the National Community Tax Coalition website: http://action.tax-coalition.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2318
|Asset Building in Practice
Institute for Fiscal Progress
Promoting Healthy Financial Behavior
Fiscal Progress is where individuals, families, students and community groups connect to strengthen financial awareness. The organization offers a variety of programs to meet the changing needs of our community and beyond. Institute for Fiscal Progress offers a variety of classes, workshops and seminars in addition to individual counseling. Whether you are a prospective first-time homebuyer or in the middle of a career change, our public education outreach can benefit you.
Institute for Fiscal Progress, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Founded in 1998 as The Community Learning Consortium, Inc., the organization has evolved over the years and remains dedicated to its original mission of educating consumers. In 2004, the company moved its operations to Raleigh, NC to take advantage of a surrounding community that is both affordable and dedicated to education.
- Promote financial awareness to the public
- Equip consumers with financial education, guidance and a network of support
- Foster the achievement of client goals by promoting healthy financial behavior
Visit their website for more information: http://www.fiscalprogress.org/Fiscal Progress is an official IRS Free File site.
Qualifying individuals and families can receive Federal and State Income Tax assistance at Fiscal Progress at no cost. This service is free, convenient, and confidential.
Their trained community volunteers can help you with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly for which you may qualify. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, their site also offers free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper - even faster if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account.
For further information about the Fiscal Progress tax assistance program or to make an appointment, please call (919) 719-1750 or contact them at:
5540 Centerview Drive, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606
If you have an Asset Building Program, please let us know! Email Emila Sutton with details.
Research and Publications
Although the Research Committee already provided
some resources on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in a previous newsletter,
we thought it would be useful to provide a more detailed overview of this
critical work support program. For more information about the EITC for North
Carolina households, go to http://www.eitc-carolinas.org/.
is the EITC?
The Earned Income
Tax Credit is a both a federal and now a N.C. tax credit. Designed to
"make work pay", the EITC provides low- and moderate-income working
families earning less than $48,279 in 2009 a credit on their earned income. The
credit can put up to $5,940 in federal and N.C. EITC into the pockets
of those who qualify. Each year, the credit lifts an estimated 5 million people
out of poverty, including 2.5 million children.
did the EITC originate?
First enacted in
1975 under President Gerald Ford, the EITC expanded under presidents Ronald
Reagan, George Bush, Sr., and Bill Clinton-and has had longstanding bipartisan
support. EITC helps offset Social Security taxes and provides an incentive for
work. It is the federal government's largest benefits program for working
In 2007, North
Carolina became the twenty-second state to adopt a state Earned Income Tax
Credit. The NC EITC will is 5 percent of the federal EITC with the same
many people in North Carolina currently file for the EITC?
In tax year 2005,
770,644 working families, 21 percent of all NC taxpayers, filed for the credit
and received a total of more than $1.5 billion, an average of $1,950 per
many people in North Carolina who are eligible for the EITC don't file for it?
Nationally, the IRS
estimates that only 75 percent to 85 percent of those eligible for the credit
file for it. Using these 75 and 85 percent figures as a guideline, we estimate
that in North Carolina between 135,000 and 256,000 eligible tax filers fail to
claim the credit each year, leaving between $132 million and $250 million
dollars unclaimed each year.
do people typically do with the EITC once they receive it?
They do the same
things most of us do with our tax refunds: buy things they need, pay down debt,
and put some away. The EITC can be a vital tool in helping people save for
education and training, finance transportation to work, start a small business,
or save for a home.
can eligible people go to get free help in preparing their income tax returns?
preparation services are provided through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance, or VITA, program. Volunteers that work at community organizations
are trained and certified by the IRS.
For a listing of who provides such services in your community, call the
Connectinc free tax helpline at 1-888-927-3230, your local United Way 2-1-1
helpline, or visit the EITC Carolinas Web site at www.eitc-carolinas.org. You can also call the IRS helpline
there anything we can do to help those receiving the credit take better
advantage of this lump sum check?
Yes. Encourage them
to be smart shoppers when looking for help in preparing their tax returns. Fees
for tax preparation vary widely, and many charge excessive rates for
"refund anticipation loans," thereby reducing the value of the credit
to hard-working families. Free or low-cost sites represent an important
alternative to these services.
can employers help support their employees' access to the EITC?
The most important
thing is to make sure employees know about it. Employers can use a variety of
strategies such as: Including EITC information with W-2 forms; Including
information in employee newsletters and posting information in employee common
areas such as lunchrooms; and working with local VITA programs to host free tax
prep services on-site and hosting financial education "lunch and learn"
programs. Employers can also encourage their workers to use direct deposit of
paychecks so that they become "banked" and will have an account for speedier
direct deposit of tax refunds.
do I volunteer?
Contact your local
free tax preparation site and ask. Volunteer opportunities are available for
people interested in greeting people as they walk in the door, helping prepare
returns, babysitting children while others are preparing returns, or providing
goods and services for free income tax preparation sites.
For more NC data:
Brookings Institution Research and Data by State, County, Zip Code
Carolina Justice and Community Development Center
Community Tax Coalition
E. Casey Foundation
on Budget and Policy Priorities
Carolina Commissioner of Banks
Reinvestment Association of North Carolina
Please contact Jess Dorrance for more information on the Research Committee.
|To contribute to the N.C. Assets Alliance monthly newsletter or for general information about the N.C. Assets Alliance, contact Emila Sutton.
The North Carolina Assets
Alliance is a 40-member state-wide coalition representing public, private and
non-profit institutions with the vision to expand opportunity and build a more
stable financial future for all North Carolinians. For more information, visit www.ncassets.org.
|DID YOU KNOW?
year, eligible North Carolina workers and their families lose more than
$132 million dollars because they fail to claim the Earned Income Tax
Credit - the actual figure is probably closer to $250 million.
When coupled with the fact that most EITC dollars are spent locally, this means that the state easily loses another $350 million in local economic stimulus - money that could be boosting the state's economy, especially in its most disadvantaged communities.
To find a FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site near you, please visit the EITC Carolinas Website.
|Become a FAN of the NC Assets Alliance on Facebook!
Visit the NC Assets Alliance Facebook page for updates and information on asset building work accross the state and nationally. Join us!
Join the NC Assets Alliance Google Groups in your region!
you to those who participated in the in the Community Forums in
Wilmington, Greenville, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Charlotte hosted by the North Carolina Assets Alliance and the North
Carolina Housing Coalition. We invite you to join the Google Groups (GG) in your region. If you were unable to attend the forums, please feel free to join the group. We have created the online group to connect anyone in the your region that are interested in the asset building arena.To join, please send an email request to Emila Sutton.