Across Michigan, the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition and its members are working to help families, individuals and children achieve better financial outcomes. To read some of the stories and news covering the MEIC and its members, click on the links below. If you have a story to add, contact Ross Yednock (yednock (at) cedam.info)
Some Tax preparers get it wrong during consumer test
From Detroit Free Press, April 15, 2015
Ever wonder what would happen if you tested out the folks who prepare your taxes? Sad to say, it might not be pretty, according to a newly released report by a group of consumer advocates.
A very limited test involved mystery shopping two types of hypothetical tax returns, one for a single parent and another for a graduate student.
AThe test indicated problems with 27 of 29 the hypothetical returns prepared as part of the test, according to a report released by the National Consumer Law Center, the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and Reinvestment Partners. (Read More)
Childless Adults Qualify of earned income credit, too
From Detroit Free Press, February 4, 2015
The Earned Income Tax Credit has one of those clunky names that you might ignore, as unfortunately some do. But the complex credit can put real money into the pockets of working people.
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service, volunteer tax preparers, and others roll out a National EITC Awareness Day to warn that much-needed money is being left on the table.
After years of such publicity and with almost 28 million people receiving $66 billion for the credit last year, it is hard to believe that anyone would not know about a key tool that fights poverty.
Kathleen Hatke Aro, president of the Accounting Aid Society in Detroit, said she’s unsure why millions of dollars still goes unclaimed. (Read More)
Try doing your own taxes – the ‘pros’ make plenty of mistakes, anyway
From bobsullivan.net, February 4, 2015
The majority of Americans pay someone else to do their taxes — about 3 out of 5 taxpayers. This is tragedy to me on many levels. For starters, it’s insane that our tax code is so complicated that people feel they can’t do it on their own. Part of the problem is fear of numbers — “Innumeracy,” which is mathematical illiteracy — that I wrote about extensively in my book, Stop Getting Ripped Off. But the bigger problem is the way Americans fund our government, which is hopelessly broken. The more opaque things are, the more loopholes and exceptions, the harder it is to pin blame on waste, and the harder it is to make sure people are paying their fair share.(Read More)
Need help filing tax retunrs? Goodwill offering free tax preparation event at career center in Muskegon
From MLive.com, February 2, 2015
MUSKEGON, MI – The calendar has been flipped to February, which means tax season is underway in the Muskegon area.
In an effort to ensure that eligible taxpayers claim and keep all of the tax credits for which they are eligible, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan will host a special “Super Saturday” event on Saturday, Feb. 7.
Free tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income families will be available at the event, which will take place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Goodwill Career Center, 271 E. Apple Ave., in Muskegon.
No appointments are required at the event. Tax returns will be processed by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify for services, clients must have a household income below $60,000. (Read More)
Tax season brings out scam artists, so be careful
From The San Diego Source, January 30, 2015
It won’t take very long for April 15 to roll around, and with it the annual rush to get state and federal tax returns filed on time. And as each year passes, it seems the process becomes more and more complicated.
Most taxpayers have a couple of things in common: to pay the least possible in taxes and get the biggest tax refund possible.
Unfortunately, those two objectives can potentially lead to some serious complications.
“Every filing season, scam artists lure victims in by promising outlandish refunds,” said John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. “Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund.”
A new report, “Protecting Consumers at Tax Time,” has been released by a consortium of consumer groups headed by the Consumer Federation of America. It details the challenge consumers face trying to pick a paid tax provider, and efforts to expand rules and regulations for preparers. (Read More)
Show Me the Money Day returns to help people get into financial shape
From MLive.com, January 23, 2015
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Is getting into financial shape on your list of New Year’s resolutions?
The second annual Show Me the Money Day events are being held around the state to help Michigan residents get on track financially by answering questions on a variety of money matters.
In West Michigan, the first event will be held Jan. 31 in Grand Rapids. A week later, events are slated for Feb. 7 in Holland and Hastings.
All three will offer free assistance on a variety of topics from applying for college financial aid to budgeting to buying a house. (Read More)
Since recession, middle class walks fine line
From Battle Creek Enquirer, May 18, 2014
The line between the middle class and poverty is $3,760. That razor thin line is attributed to jobs that were lost during the recession that have yet to return to Calhoun County.
More than 7,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Calhoun County since 2000, with gains of only 1,950 since the recession was declared over in mid-June 2009, according to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
Those most affected by the financial meltdown were middle-class citizens who had few skills or training outside of manufacturing. Families and individuals who had steady full-time employment are still seeking assistance or barely making ends meet. (Read More)
Putting fun in financial health awareness
From Capital Gains, March 5, 2014
While a DJ and dancing, free tax help, financial resources, and pizza and prizes aren’t things you would usually find all under one roof, Show Me the Money Day combines them all, resulting in a unique and valuable event that benefits The Capital region and other communities across Michigan.
In 2011, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) worked with their Flint partner to create an event that would help people achieve a sense of financial empowerment. The event kicks off tax season and provides communities with access to financial education, workshops, vendors, and free tax assistance. (Read More)
Business Notebook: Consumers Energy grants $100,000 for free tax preparation
From MLive.com, February 25, 2014
Consumers Energy recently gave a $100,000 grant to help Michigan taxpayers access free income tax assistance programs.
The Jackson-based utility gave the grant to the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition to cover the cost of scheduling appointments through Michigan 211 and training and support for free tax locations, according to a news release. (Read More)
Steelcase team to give free tax prep help at Kent County’s United Way coalition’s Community Day
From MLive.com, February 18, 2014
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The Steelcase team that handles the billion dollar finances of the world’s largest office furniture company is providing its assistance to Kent County residents for free.
The United Way’s Kent County Tax Credit Coalition and the Steelcase finance department will host a free tax prep days on Wednesday, Feb. 19 and Monday, Feb, 24. (Read More)
IRS service delay frustration
From WDIV – News 4 Detroit, February 17, 2014
DETROIT – Can’t get through to the IRS with your questions? If you use Accounting Aid’s free DIY online tax program, you can get your questions answered via our live, phone-based hotline. Reporter Steve Garagiola reports: (See More)
United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers free tax help to Saginaw County residents
From MLive.com, February 6, 2014
SAGINAW, MI — Residents seeking help in preparing their taxes have six locations to choose from through United Way of Saginaw County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
County residents who met the Internal Revenue Service’s Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines are eligible to receive free tax preparation. (Read More)
Need help with your taxes? Free tax preparation sites to aid low- to moderate-income people
From MLive.com, February 3, 2014
GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan — Individuals who need help filing their taxes this year can get assistance from a variety of groups and agencies.
Both the state and federal government offer tax help on the Web and by telephone. There also are dozens of places offering free tax preparation for those who qualify. (Read More)
Letters: Make sure you know about tax help that is available
From Muskegon Chronicle, January 31, 2014
Jan. 31 marked the eighth National EITC Awareness Day, a nationwide effort to increase awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit and free tax preparation sites.
The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families. If you worked last year and had income less than $51,567 you should find out if you are eligible for EITC. On average, EITC adds $2,300 to working families’ refunds. According to the IRS, only four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC. (Read More)
Community Action Agency provides free tax filing service for households that earned $52,000 or less
From MLive.com, January 30, 2014
JACKSON, MI— As a single father working towards his master’s degree, saving a few hundred dollars on filing his tax returns means putting more food on the table for his 11-year-old daughter.
For the past three years, Summit Township resident Derry Petty had certified tax volunteers at the Community Action Agency file his state and federal taxes free of charge through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. (Read More)