Hudson Valley CASH Coalition Kicks Off Tax Help Initiative

The Hudson Valley CASH Coalition kicked off its annual effort to aid low and middle income workers in Dutchess County file their 2012 taxes and apply for Earned Income Tax Credits on Jan. 31 during a press conference at its Poughkeepsie Plaza tax preparation site.

The Coalition is taking part in the annual IRS nationwide effort to build EITC awareness and bring information to the millions of workers in the U.S. who will qualify for the credit for the first time this year. The IRS reports that EITC annually lifting 6.6 million people out of poverty; half are children. This year, some low to moderate income working families earning less than $50,000 and individuals making less than $13,980 could be entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro was on hand for the first day of tax filing at the site and said the Coalition’s free tax preparation services are of “critical importance to those in need among us” and provides an opportunity for them to get back on their feet through the refunds and credits they receive.

For the 2011 tax season, the Coalition prepared 3,682 returns in Dutchess County for low and middle income taxpayers and seniors, and for 1,940 filers in Orange. A Coalition exit survey showed that two-thirds of the filers made $29,000 or less. A total of 962 Dutchess and Orange County eligible taxpayers received $1,423,780 in Earned Income Tax Credits Refunds and all credits received by the 5,622 filers helped by the CASH Coalition totaled $5,310,565, which results in a local economic impact estimated to be more than $9.2 million.

The Coalition will have 23 sites, including the Poughkeepsie Plaza site, in Dutchess County to provide tax preparation services, as well as sites in Orange.

“This year the Coalition has the capacity of assisting more than 6,000 Hudson Valley low and middle income workers and seniors at our tax preparation sites in Dutchess and Orange Counties,” said Linda Eddy, Hudson Valley CASH Coalition’s Chair for Dutchess County. “This is the ninth year of the CASH coalition efforts to aid people eligible for EITC as well as child tax credits, and to help filers with free tax preparation services.”

Some Coalition sites will be open on Saturdays and there also will be free tax preparation by advance request to aide speaking Spanish tax filers and those who are hearing impaired in Dutchess County, said Eddy.

“The Coalition will offer free tax preparation services from Jan. 31 through April 15 with teams of trained AARP Tax Aide volunteers,” said Edward Hogarty, representing AARP Tax-Aide. “Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union branches in Beacon, Poughkeepsie and Town of Newburgh are among the Dutchess and Orange sites.” HVFCU sites in Kingston and Carmel, Putnam County also will have AARP Tax Aide volunteers preparing returns for filers.

“Four of five eligible workers claim and get their Earned Income Tax Credit which often keeps a family out of poverty. The credit can assist a family pay their bills and rent, pay down their debt, get medical care, buy food, or provide other basic needs,” said United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region’s Community Impact Director Diane Hart. “That’s why it’s so important for United Way to be a Coalition partner since it fulfills our commitment to help people achieve financial stability in their lives.”

Other Dutchess and Orange County partners in the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition include AARP Tax Aide, Catholic Charities, the IRS, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, the Dutchess County Community Action Partnership, Literacy Orange, North East Community Center, Pathstone, Taconic Resources for Independence, Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Dutchess County Department of Community & Family Services, and Fidelis Care. These organizations and volunteers work together to recruit volunteers, schedule appointments, and coordinate all the logistics of preparation sites.

For more information on the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition’s free tax preparation services, log on to http://hv-cash.org/client.html. Individuals can make an appointment for tax preparation services, or find the site nearest to them and the phone number of that location to make an appointment by calling the free Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 helpline available daily, including weekends, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. In areas where 2-1-1 cannot be dialed, residents can call 1-800-899-1479 to access the helpline.

For EITC qualifications go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Earned-Income-Tax-Credit-Rules-for-Everyone.