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Monthly Archives: January 2013

TAXES – Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

1040 FormThe Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal tax credit for low-income working families. The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. You can access free Tax Sites in Massachusetts by clicking on the following link http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ which is provided through the IRS website. Once you click on the link, enter your zip code, (there is an option to find a tax site within 5 to 100 miles of your zip code) then click find. Please note that the majority of the VITA sites are open annually from late January/early February to April 15 which is the last day to file your taxes for the 2012 Tax Year. When you go to get your taxes prepared remember to bring all relevant documentation with you. Below is a checklist of things to bring with you to have your tax return prepared at a VITA site. Checklist of things to bring with you to have your tax return prepared at a VITA site:

  •  Proof of identification – Picture ID
  •  Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
  •  Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
  •  Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  •  Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  •  Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R (pension or annuity), SSA-1099 (Social Security benefits) 1099-Misc from all employers
  •  Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  •  Proof of Health Insurance (1099HC or health insurance card)
  •  A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
  •  Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
  •  Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
  •  To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms

  Other documents that you should bring if applicable:

  •  All 1098T forms (tuition payments) and student loan interest paid
  •  Unemployment compensation statements
  •  Total rent paid in 2012 along with the landlord or rental agent’s name and address

Each year millions of eligible workers risk missing out on the EITC either because they do not know they qualify or how to claim the tax credit. In order to get the credit, those eligible must file and claim it. As a result, billions of additional tax credit dollars go unclaimed. Research by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicates that between 15% and 25% of households who are entitled to the EITC do not claim their credit. That’s between 3.5 million and 7 million families. For the 2011 tax year, for the nation as a whole, there were 26.5 million EITC claims, $60.7 billion awarded to eligible tax filers, and the average EITC awarded to eligible filers was $2,200. For the state of Massachusetts, there were 386 thousand EITC claims, $752 million awarded to eligible tax filers, and the average EITC awarded to eligible filers was $1,950. The following is a table that summarizes the 2012 Tax Year EITC income limits and maximum credit amounts. Investment income must be $3,200 or less for the year.

Single/Head of Household

Married Filling Jointly

Maximum Credit

Max. Income of $45,060 with 3  or more qualifying children

Max. Income of $50,270 with 3 or more qualifying children

$5,891

Max. Income of $41,952 with 2 qualifying children

Max. Income of $47,162 with 2 qualifying children

$5,236

Max. Income of $36,920 with 1 qualifying child

Max. Income of $42,130 with one qualifying child

$3,169

Max. Income of $13,980 with no qualifying children

Max. Income of $19,190 with no qualifying children

$475

MassBudget Releases Two Reports on Funding for Early Education

MassBudget logo

Press Release from Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, January 16, 2013   Early education and care can provide lifelong benefits for young children, and it also helps support the day-to-day needs of working parents. Here in Massachusetts, early education and care programs include things like universal Pre-K, early literacy, and tax breaks for daycare. Two new MassBudget reports examine the positive impacts of early education and care, and the funding cuts that have affected these programs. The first paper, Declines in Spending on Early Education and Care in Massachusetts, tracks trends in funding since welfare reform in the mid-1990s and finds that:

    • Under pressure from the recession and the large revenue losses that followed the tax cuts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, budgeted spending on early education and care has fallen by 25% since 2001 (adjusted for inflation)
    • When we combine spending for early education and care with the other major source of support for lower-income parents–cash assistance–we find a $1 billion decline since 1995 (adjusted for economic growth)

The second paper, Economic Gains from Early Education and Care, is authored by UMass professor Arthur MacEwan and produced in partnership with PERI. It makes the case for the large, economic benefits of high quality early education and care. As MacEwan puts it: “High quality programs can enhance children’s cognitive and social development, which will shape their well-being throughout their lives. The higher salaries that the children then obtain later in life, the greater economic contribution to society that these salaries tend to reflect, and the higher resulting tax payments are important elements of the gains that have been observed. There are, however, many other indirect economic gains: lower incidences of grade retention and special education; elevated high school graduation rates and college-going rates; reduced reliance on social support programs; better health outcomes; and less engagement with the criminal justice system.”

Support Early Education by Participating in the Rising Stars 2013 Campaign from Strategies for Children

rising stars logo

Written by Emily Levine at Strategies for Children/Early Education for All. Emily can be reached at 617-330-7389 or elevine@earlyeducationforall.org.

Governor Patrick is working on his FY14  state budget recommendations, and he needs to hear from you!

Now is the time to increase investments in high-quality early education. Children across the commonwealth, our “rising stars,” are counting on everyone – educators, parents, advocates, neighbors, grandparents, administrators, students and citizens – to speak up on their behalf.

Please join Rising Stars 2013 by:

  • Decorating stars: Invite young children in your early education program/family/neighborhood to decorate stars to represent them. Use crayons, paint, glitter, feathers and other materials. Click here for a star template. Please cut out the stars. On the back of the decorated stars, attach a message about the importance of investing in our rising stars. Include the child’s name, name of your program (if applicable), and the city/town on the message sheet.
  • For children in grades K-3: Help children fill out their very own K-3rd grade Rising Star to send to Governor Patrick! Make sure to complete both sides.
  • Future early educators: Send a message to the governor asking him to prioritize young children and the early education workforce by personalizing this letter.
  •  General supporters of young children: Personalize this letter to the governor on behalf of young children and families in Massachusetts. In the section labeled, “your role,” you may choose from one of the following, or include another that fits you best: parent, voter, guardian, resident, professional educator, administrator, grandparent, concerned citizen, etc.
Mail your decorated stars and personalized letters to the governor by January  25. Governor Deval Patrick State House, Room 360 Boston, MA 02133   Let Strategies know you’veparticipated! Complete this participation form and send to: Emily Levine Strategies for Children/Early Education for All 400 Atlantic Avenue Boston, MA 02110