A taxing job

by Mar 15, 2013

…between 20 and 25 percent of people in the country who are eligible for the EIC do not claim it…a family earning about $30,000 could potentially earn an EIC of up to $7,000.

Community volunteers spent Wednesday morning helping individuals and families with low to moderate incomes file their federal and state taxes at Chesapeake Church in Huntingtown as part of the End Hunger in Calvert County’s Cash Tax Program.
The two main goals of the program, sponsored by PNC Bank, is to make sure eligible individuals claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, and to help families who earn $57,000 or less annually file and learn how to file their own taxes, said End Hunger program director Robin Brungard.
Brungard said between 20 and 25 percent of people in the country who are eligible for the EIC do not claim it, based on information she received from the federal government. She said a family earning about $30,000 could potentially earn an EIC of up to $7,000.
“It can be worth even more than they pay in taxes, so it’s a big deal,” Brungard said.
Tax program volunteers also want to help guide families to make “strategic purchases” with their tax returns, Brungard said, such as repairing their car to go to work or catching up on rental or housing payments to secure housing.
Brungard said it is important to the program for volunteers to not only help people file taxes but to teach them how to do them.
“There’s a sense of pride,” Brungard said of people who learn how to file their taxes. “They learned something and it changes their family.”
Jan Lomax, PNC vice president of the office of the market executive, said although PNC is a “big bank,” the company is “engaged and entrenched in the community.” The three main objectives PNC has, she said, are financial literacy, early childhood education and community development, the last of which End Hunger’s tax program falls under.
“End Hunger’s program of offering vital services [and] offering income tax assistance to the general public is something that we could really get behind,” Lomax said. “For the past three years, the PNC Foundation has issued grants to enable Chesapeake Church and End Hunger to continue the program.”
Chesapeake Church’s the Rev. Robert Hahn said PNC has been a “great community partner” with supporting the tax program.
“We are honored to work with PNC,” Hahn said. “This makes a real difference in real people’s lives, right here in this county.”
For those who take advantage of End Hunger’s program, PNC offers a free debit card, onto which the IRS loads a person’s tax return directly, Brungard said. People can then use that debit card to pay bills or withdraw money at an ATM for free, she said. If a person feels more comfortable with a paper check, PNC also offers the option of cashing that check for free, with a letter from End Hunger, at any PNC branch, she said.
People with low to moderate income can file taxes for free through a “file taxes free” link on End Hunger’s website and can also make appointments for help with filing their taxes through April 15, Brungard said.
“Some people who are not feeling quite so comfortable can come in, sit down, and we’ll teach them how to do their taxes,” Brungard said. “We’ll make sure that you get every dollar [and] that you’re not spending money for things that you don’t need to.”
To volunteer, file taxes or make an appointment, go to https://old.endhungercalvert.org/.
kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com