|MANY FLORIDIANS ARE MISSING OUT ON TAX WINDFALL|
Florida CFO, Coalition launch statewide education effort to help Floridians claim millions
As many as 350,000 Floridians could be claiming an immediate cash refund worth thousands of dollars - and now there are free resources available to help them do it, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has announced.
“We know that thousands of Floridians qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and don’t claim it. For many families, these dollars could help pay down debt or make a down payment on a house. For Florida, it means millions of dollars added to our economy,” Gallagher said. “Our goal in promoting awareness of the tax credit and the resources available is to get money back in the hands of hardworking taxpayers so that they can take advantage of Florida’s unlimited opportunity.”
Many Floridians could get checks totaling up to $4,300 more in the mail this tax season - that’s in addition to whatever sum they might already be expecting when they file their annual income tax return. In addition to the current year, Floridians can go back three years prior to claim refunds. Those who qualify include:
- Individuals who earn less than $30,338 ($31,338 if married filing jointly) with one child are eligible for as much as $2,600.
- Individuals who earn less than $34,458 ($35,458 if married filing jointly) with two children may qualify for as much as $4,300.
- Individuals who earn less than $11,490 ($12,490 if married filing jointly) with no children are eligible for as much as $390.
Gallagher said getting out the word about the Earned Income Tax Credit is part of the ongoing Your Money, Your Life initiative launched last fall. He said it is especially important in a year when so many Floridians suffered hurricane losses that the public knows how easy it is for those who qualify to file for the credit. According to the IRS, as much as $635 million dollars is still going unclaimed in Florida.
In addition, Leadership Florida, a statewide public service organization, will use its network of business professionals to help Floridians who may qualify for the tax credit.
“Leadership Florida recognized how important it would be for so many working families to have more information about if, and how, they could qualify for this program,” Leadership Florida President Wendy Abberger said. “We are proud to be engaging our statewide network of leaders to promote the EITC and the dreams it may help Floridians realize.”
According to Daniella Levine, who has helped spearhead efforts to link Miami residents with the EITC, says that there are a number of studies that show taxpayers with incomes in the $30,000 to $35,000 range are unaware that they may qualify for the refund and so do not file claims.
“In the Miami area we estimate that up to 25 percent of the people who qualify for this tax refund do not file for it,” said Daniella Levine, executive director of the Human Services Coalition of Dade County, Inc. “With this campaign, we hope to reach as many of those families as we possibly can. This is like found money.”
One Miami resident, Julio Escobar, was able to claim refunds totaling nearly $8,500 over a three-year period. Escobar used the dollars to improve his family’s quality of life by paying down debt, putting a down payment on a house and purchasing reliable transportation for his family.
“I read an article about the EITC and thought we might qualify,” said Escobar. “I’m happy to say we did. This money has changed our life.”
Ryan Priest, communications spokesperson for the Allstate Foundation, said the Earned Income Tax Credit refund awareness campaign “is exactly the kind of public purpose initiative the Allstate Foundation is proud to be a part of. Information is always the key to making wise decisions about our personal finances.”
The Your Money, Your Life initiative is being funded by the Allstate Foundation with support from the Department of Financial Services, Florida Council on Economic Education, Florida Insurance Council, Florida Bankers Association, the Florida Credit Union League and the Consumer Federation of the Southeast. The initiative includes public outreach, a media campaign, and one of the most comprehensive Web sites on personal financial matters, www.yourmoneyyourlife.org. Other organizations supporting the initiative include the Florida Retail Federation, Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Association of Realtors.
The Your Money, Your Life Web site provides Floridians with detailed information on who qualifies for the refunds and where to turn to get free help filing the appropriate IRS forms. With the help available on this website, it is not necessary to pay someone to help them file.
“We not only want to make people aware that they may qualify for this money,” said CFO Gallagher, “we also want to arm them with information on wisely using the dollars they get back.
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