Mayor Martin O'Malley and a coalition of other city agencies and businesses today launched an effort to promote a federal and state tax credit for Baltimore's low- to moderate-income workers.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) -- a refundable tax credit for full-time, part-time or temporary workers -- is worth up to about $4,300, depending on income and family size. Workers with annual income of less than $34,458 may be eligible for the credit.
According to the mayor's office, the average EITC for Baltimore workers in 2003 was $1,710.
"The EITC helps families jump-start their financial future by paying bills, reducing debt, opening savings accounts," said Doug Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, one of the groups involved in the Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH) Campaign.
The campaign, consisting of a group of government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, foundations and the Internal Revenue Service, aims to promote the benefits of the EITC, offering free tax preparation and connecting people with financial education and savings opportunities, the mayor's office said.
According to a study released by the Baltimore CASH Campaign, nearly $29 million in EITC payments are unclaimed by Baltimore workers.
"Imagine failing to pick up money that is yours -- we need to make more families aware of the significant cash benefits of the EITC," O'Malley said in a statement.
The CASH Campaign is also recruiting volunteers to help families prepare federal and state tax returns, many of which include the EITC. Last year, according to the mayor's office, the campaign mobilized 300 volunteers and prepared 3,875 tax returns, returning $6.1 million in federal and state refunds to Baltimore communities.
"That's up to $30 million additional dollars that could be supporting families in our city," O'Malley said.
According to campaign officials, many families forfeit a large portion of their tax refund by using commercial tax preparers or purchasing expensive Refund Anticipation Loans. The campaign hopes to inform people of alternatives to costly commercial tax services, such as the free tax preparation, free electronic filing and direct deposit refunds.
The campaign has a goal of recruiting 300 volunteers for 14 tax sites that would operate throughout the city. Training sessions are scheduled for December, and no previous experience is necessary to volunteer.
City officials urged those interested in volunteering to contact the CASH Campaign at 410-539-6800, ext. 242, or e-mail email@example.com.
On the Net: www.mdchildcare.org
Friday, November 19, 2004, 1:38 PM EST