April 3, 2007

Whitehouse Raises Awareness of Tax Relief for Working Families

Rhode Island Senator Joins IRS, John Hope Settlement House to Help Families Assess Their Eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Providence, R.I.- With the income tax filing deadline just two weeks away, today U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined the John Hope Settlement House and representatives from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to offer free tax preparation assistance and advice to working families. The event was driven by an effort to raise awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which last year went unclaimed by more than 13,000 eligible Rhode Islanders.

“Working families have earned these tax credits,” Whitehouse said. “At a time when the Bush administration seems more focused on cutting taxes for millionaires than providing real tax relief for working families, it’s important that low-income taxpayers in our state know that programs like the EITC exist to help them.”

The IRS estimates that 76,000-79,000 Rhode Islanders were eligible for the EITC last year, a benefit worth up to $4,536 for a family with two or more children this year. According to the IRS, 64,981 tax filers in Rhode Island claimed the credit in the 2005 tax year, for a total tax benefit of $116 million. Nationally, the IRS estimated that 20% of people who may qualify for the EITC are not aware of the credit. In 2005, 22 million taxpayers received $41 billion in benefits from the EITC, making it one of the largest tax relief programs for American workers.

The John Hope Settlement House is part of a Rhode Island coalition that provides volunteer tax preparation assistance at eight venues across the state. The service is funded by both the United Way and the Casey Foundation. The program assisted 1,600 EITC filers last year and hopes to exceed that total this year. This year’s filing deadline is April 17.

Senator Whitehouse, a strong advocate for working families, recently joined Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to unveil legislation designed to offer real tax relief to middle class families. The tax relief package consisted of four components, designed to help families during times of need: expansion of the child tax credit, relief from the individual Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), simplification and expansion of higher education tax credits, and a new elder-care credit for families caring for aging loved ones.


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