Most people don’t want to think about it but it’s the time a year to begin thinking about filing 2021 tax returns. For many working people in Charlestown there’s some relief from the confusing process of figuring out taxes.
Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) John F. Kennedy Family Service Center, at 23A Moulton Street, in partnership with the City of Boston, kicked off its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program last week.
From now until April, Charlestown residents can head to the Kennedy Family Service Center for free tax help. The office will be opened Monday through Friday to help begin the tax filing process.
Taxes for qualifying residents can be done through appointment by calling the office at 617-357-6012 or by calling ABCD Connect at 617-348-6329.
For many working people in Charlestown the program has provided some relief from the confusing process of figuring out taxes. Qualified hard working low-wage workers often receive significant EITC credits and see a big increase in their tax returns through the free program. This is money that can directly help low-income residents who work hard for their money. It can be used to pay the heat, food and rent costs that are weighing people down.
ABCD President/CEO John Drew is urging Charlestown residents who earned $58,000 or less in 2021 to schedule an appointment at the Kennedy Family Service Center and take full advantage of the program.
Drew said this year EITC provides a married couple with three or more children earning up to $57,414 and filing jointly with the maximum federal 2021 EITC of $6,728 plus the state EITC of $2,018 for a total EITC of $ 8,746. For details regarding family size and payments, see bostonabcd.org/tax-assistance.
EITC can also be accessed retroactively for the previous three years, so eligible taxpayers can qualify for a sizable sum.
Drew noted that ABCD has worked with people buried under a mountain of debt, people who felt they were out of options and who didn’t know they qualified for EITC. The IRS estimates one out of five eligible taxpayers will not claim EITC and will lose out on this important credit.
In addition, taxpayers who were eligible to receive the American Rescue Plan payment of $1,400 but did not receive the full amount in 2021 can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit against their 2021 income tax.
“The COVID-19 pandemic with its crushing variants plus soaring prices due to inflation have thrown vulnerable individuals and families into a full-blown crisis,” said Drew. “This free tax preparation service can mean the difference between paying their rent and being at risk of losing their home. It can meet needs for immediate expenses such as food and medication and utility bills and help families find financial footing, moving forward.”
For two decades ABCD has worked in tandem with the Boston Tax Help Coalition. ABCD played a significant role in founding the coalition in 2001.
Last week, Mayor Michelle Wu urged qualified residents to take advantage of the free tax help.
“Boston residents can save hundreds of dollars per household through the Boston Tax Help Coalition’s free tax preparation,“ said Wu. “Staff and volunteers will also help eligible residents receive the highest Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit possible. These free resources are not only a valued resource to thousands of Boston residents, but serve as a model for similar programs around the country.”
ABCD tax prep volunteers also make sure that eligible clients receive the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit which provides seniors aged 65 and older with up to $1,170 in tax refunds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This credit is available to all eligible seniors who pay unsubsidized rent or property taxes and is retroactive for three years.
Last year, ABCD helped 2,517 residents complete their state and federal tax returns, maximizing EITC, Child Tax Credits, Senior Circuit Breaker and more, and resulting in $6.1 million in refunds.
Drew said that economic infusion channels dollars back to hardworking families and revitalizes businesses in under-resourced neighborhoods.
The Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC has been called one of the most successful anti-poverty programs ever provided. An initiative that rewards working people, it was established to assist income-eligible taxpayers, reaching out to those in underserved communities.
Initiated by the IRS in 1969, the EITC and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a nationwide program that assists taxpayers earning up to $58,000 a year. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations such as community colleges in low income areas.