Friday, January 25, 2008

Tax Time!

Just Harvest kicked off our sixth season of doing free tax preparation for low-income workers with a bang! Our office is bustling with a dozen tax preparers and numerous clients taking advantage of our services. Despite the aggressive “quick refund” ad campaigns by Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block, and other paid preparers, we’re meeting more new clients every day.

January 22 was the first day of 2008’s “Give Paychecks a Boost” campaign, and 16 of that day’s 20 clients were eligible for EITCs (Earned Income Tax Credits) totaling $32,066, with total refunds of over $63,000! This wouldn’t be possible without our hard-working schedulers, both of whom we hired through Welfare-to-Work programs, and our dedicated tax preparers and volunteers. Some of our preparers have been with us for all six years we’ve been doing free tax assistance; some are newly certified and just beginning to see the huge impact of our work. Our client intake and information specialist volunteers help manage the flow of people and data, and so far things are running smoothly (despite some headaches involving a particularly cranky copier machine).

In case you don’t know, the EITC is the United State’s largest anti-poverty program. It supplements workers’ incomes with tax refunds and enables millions of workers to keep their bills paid, cars repaired, and keep up with other expenses. Established in 1975, it has achieved wide bi-partisan support over the decades. If you want to find out more about the EITC, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities does a great job of breaking it down here:

In 2007, we served nearly 1,500 households, with refunds totaling more than $2.2 million! This year’s goal is $2.5 million. Here’s to another successful year of giving paychecks a boost! If your family received less than $35,000 in income in 2007 ($25,000 for a single person), you may be eligible for our free service. Talk to one of our schedulers by calling (412) 431-8964. Our hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.

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