APAC kicks off Earned Income Tax Credit Program

APAC’s Myrna Barry helps a East Boston resident begin the process of filing taxes through APAC’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program.

-By John Lynds

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Most people don’t want to think about it but it’s the time a year to begin thinking about filing 2010 tax returns. For many working people in East Boston there’s some relief from the confusing process of figuring out taxes.

East Boston APAC, in partnership with the City of Boston, has kicked off its annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program at its office on Meridian Street.  The office will be opened Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help begin the tax filing process.

Eligible residents who worked in 2009 can qualify for up to $5,657, depending on income and family size.  The income threshold this year is set at approximately $49,000.  For instance, you may be eligible if you are married and have two or more children and earn less than $48,362.  If you are single and have two or more children, you need to have earned less than $40,363. For a single person with no kids the income limit has been set at $13,460

“If you are eligible, you earned this money, so don’t let your refund go unclaimed,” said APAC Director Amy Lima. “More importantly, don’t spend any of your refund paying for tax preparation – get your taxes prepared at APAC’s tax preparation site for free and keep the money in your pocket.”

APAC returned over $1 million back into the pockets of Eastie residents through he EITC program last year. APAC was one of several free tax preparation sites in the city that made filing taxes trouble-free for hundreds of Eastie’s low-income residents and families.

“Last year was an amazing tax season and we surpassed our goal of $1 million,” said Lima. “This was the most successful EITC program we’ve run since the program’s beginning in 2002.”

In 2002 APAC filed only 35 tax returns for families but that number dramatically increased each year.

Last year APAC processed over 1,000 combine state and federal tax returns that netted $1 million for Eastie families.

“It’s unbelievable that three people and a few volunteers on the weekends were able to accomplish so much,” said Lima. “It’s a great way for us to help put money back into the pockets of Eastie’s working families.”

The popular program has become an oasis for hundreds of families in the neighborhood over the course of the tax season and the program continues to grown by leaps and bounds.

“Aside from our winter fuel assistance program this is our other big program,” said Lima.  “It’s become a good alternative for many families that qualify who would otherwise have to pay a big firm to get their taxes processed.”

Citywide, the EITC campaign, a collaboration of city, state and federal government organizations, regulators, foundations, non-profits and community-based organizations (CBO’s), as well as the business community operated 20 free tax preparation sites-serving nearly 5,000 households and returning more than $7 million tax refund dollars to the pockets of Boston’s low-income families.

“This is a campaign for working people, and we want to make sure they bring home the money they earned,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “The EITC credit makes it possible to pay bills, make purchases and even save, all which strengthen our City’s economic health.  But the credit is only available by filing taxes: our free tax prep centers make the process easy and accessible.”

At APAC, said Lima, it’s the volunteers that enable EITC to accomplish their objective in the neighborhood.

“We are thankful for all the fabulous volunteers that helped make this year’s program a success,” said Lima. “They were a dedicated group and we appreciate the time they spent here at APAC helping Eastie families.”

In addition to taxes, APAC is also offering free credit advice.

“We are trying to expand on our tax program by offering some financial planning services to promote asset building,” said Lima.

Residents should call APAC if they have any questions about the economic stimulus package returns at 617-567-8857.

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