To revitalize Michigan, revitalize Detroit

Having vibrant major cities is central to a stable economy and retaining talent in Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s 10-point plan to ‘Reinvent Michigan’ includes improving the state’s city centers and establishing of a proper mass transit system.

Michigan Forward, in conjunction with Mothering Justice and Michigan Voice, recently held a forum about this called “Building the Urban Base.” The topics covered ranged from transit, to job creation to education reform. The main takeaway was that Detroit is the heart of Michigan, and education needs to be the foundation of Detroit’s success. Building an urban base, and creating an urban strategy are the keys to revitalizing Detroit, and thus Michigan. (more…)

You earned it! You keep it!

Today is National EITC Awareness Day, a day set aside to alert workers to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low- and moderate-income working families make ends meet.
 
About 800,0000 filers claimed the federal credit last year, but an estimated $90 million to $190 million in federal credits went unclaimed by Michigan taxpayers.
 
Efforts across the state this week and next will highlight the credit and encourage tax filers to use free help to claim it and avoid paying fees to commerical preparers. The efforts especially discourage the use of Refund Anticipation Loans, which essentially act as high-interest, short-term loans. Filers get their credit immediately but have to forfeit a substantial chunk for the service — sometimes hundreds of dollars.

The IRS reports that about one in every four EITC filers uses a rapid refund loan and about 65 percent use commercial preparers.
 
“You earned it — you keep it!” is the motto of the Michigan Statewide Earned Income Tax Coalition. The League, which produces an annual tax guide called Money Back in Michigan, is an active member in the coalition.
 
One cloud on the horizon this year for the EITC efforts is the threat to eliminate a state credit that is based on the federal credit. Legislative leaders have called for the elimination of the 3-year-old credit that works with the federal credit to lift children and families out of poverty and helps stimulate local economies.
 
The tool has a rich, bipartisan history. The federal EITC was enacted under President Ford and presidents of both parties have supported it since. President Reagan was especially fond of it, calling it  “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, and the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
 
In 2006, Michigan lawmakers approved, nearly unanimously, a state EITC. It began in tax year 2008 and piggybacked the credit on the federal EITC. It started at 10 percent of the federal credit in tax year 2008, increasing to 20 percent in 2009 and later years. Before the Michigan EITC was enacted, Michigan was one of the worst states for taxing incomes of the working poor. Now, Michigan taxes at about 120 percent of poverty — about average among the states.
 
Beyond helping families, it’s clear that the EITC helps local businesses and supports jobs. An Anderson Economic Group study in 2009, found that each $1 of EITC generates $1.67 in economic activity. Struggling families tend to spend all the dollars they receive in EITC and spend them quickly, supporting jobs in local businesses across the state.
 
So as we mark EITC Awareness Day today, it’s important to point out that state legislative leaders are threatening an important state tax credit that’s modeled on the federal EITC and supports local jobs across the state. We need jobs in our struggling state. The Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit needs to be preserved.

— Judy Putnam

Tax awareness events work to put more money back in your pocket

From the Michigan Earned Income Tax Coalition www.michiganeic.org

Contact: Ross Yednock at (517) 485-3588 or Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436
January 25, 2011

Volunteer coalitions around the state this week and next will highlight the availability of free tax help to claim the important federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which can put hundreds of dollars back into working families’ household budgets in Michigan. Friday is EITC Awareness Day.

Activities will include a 10 a.m. Friday press conference at the Capitol Rotunda with events planned across the state from Detroit to Petoskey. (See the list of activities at the end of this release.)

“The EITC is a critical support to thousands of low- and moderate-income families in Michigan. Every year many eligible workers in Michigan fail to claim the EITC, leaving anywhere from $90 million to $190 million in federal tax relief on the table each year,’’ said Ross H. Yednock, coordinator of the Michigan Earned Income Tax Coalition and director of CEDAM’s Asset Building Policy Project.

 “This is why we want to highlight the efforts of Michigan’s many volunteer income tax assistance programs and sites so that Michigan families can keep more of their hard-earned dollars,’’ he added.

The Michigan EITC Coalition is made of statewide and local organizations and public agencies. It is committed to supporting work and reducing poverty for Michigan’s low- to moderate-income individuals and families through outreach on available tax credits and refunds, including the federal and state earned income tax credits.

The EITC Awareness Day activities provide alternatives for filers wishing to avoid commercial preparers and discourages the use of Refund Acceleration Loans, which carry a large fee and essentially act as a high-interest, short-term loans. Instead, IRS-trained volunteers are available to help low- and moderate-income households file their taxes for free. Visit www.michiganeic.org for a list of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites. Another alternative is using a free online service, www.icanefile.org.

In addition, filers are encouraged to go to their local post office or library to find the forms (or call 1-800-TAXFORM) and file themselves, saving hundreds of dollars.

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit has a strong bipartisan history and has been supported and expanded by presidents from Nixon to Obama. The state EITC was passed in 2006 and also enjoyed bipartisan support. A single parent of two children working full-time at minimum wage and earning $15,000 a year can get a state credit of about $1,000 and a federal credit of about $5,000. Those are dollars that are needed to help lower-income families make ends meet.

“The EITC helps hardworking families buy basic necessities and it boosts the vitality of small businesses in Michigan,’’ said Michigan League for Human Services President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. “Studies have shown that there is a lot of bang for the buck as an economic stimulant because people who receive it spend it quickly.’’

The League produces an annual guide to tax credits called “Money Back in Michigan.’’

According to a study by the Brookings Institution, about 65 percent of filers in Michigan claiming a federal EITC use a commercial preparer and one in every four filers use a Refund Acceleration Loan to get a reduced tax credit immediately instead of waiting for the claim to be processed by the IRS.

For more information, visit www.MichiganEIC.org and “Money Back in Michigan” at www.milhs.org.

EITC Awareness Day: January 28, 2011
Statewide Event Listings

 

Northwest Michigan Tax Coalition
Super Saturday Special
Feb. 5
Traverse City

Contact: Karen Emerson, 231-947-3780

Click here for flyer

Project Connect
February 2
Petoskey

Click here for flyer

Wayne County Asset Building Coalition, Wayne Metro and United Way of Southeast Michigan
Jan. 28
Contact: Miryum Lulion, 734-284-6999

Click here for flyer 

Accounting Aid Society
10 a.m. Jan. 26
Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening of the Oakland Neighborhood Tax Center in Ferndale
Contact: Kathy Aro, 313-556-1920

Mayor Bing City of Detroit Tax Awareness Kick-off
2 p.m. Jan. 28
8634 West Vernor, Detroit
Press event to raise awareness of the EITC and other tax credits for Detroit residents.

Accounting Aid Society
Free Tax Preparation Beginning Late January – April 2011
Detroit, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties

Click here to find out about locations offering tax preparation services in Detroit, Wayne County Suburbs, Oakland County, Macomb County, and Livingston County

Asset Independence Coalition
Lansing
Show Me the Money Day, Jan. 29
Contact: Amber Paxton, 517-256-1466

Click here for the flyer

Genesee County Tax Assistance and Financial Services Coalition
Flint
Show Me the Money Day, Jan. 29
Contact: Carlos Cisneros, 810-762-0247

Click here for the flyer

Kent County Tax Coalition
2010 Tax Season Kickoff EITC Awareness Day
Jan. 28, 2011

Click here for the flyer

Community Action Agency: Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale
Free Tax Preparation
Jan. 29, 2011

Click here for the flyer

 

Elimination of Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit would affect thousands of residents in Jackson County

Thousands of the area’s working poor could miss out on some extra cash if the state decides to cut a tax credit from its budget.

The Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low-income workers, is on the table for cuts as the state faces a $1.8 billion shortfall in next year’s budget.  Jan. 24, 2011  —  mlive.com

Health care cuts likely as Michigan struggles with budget

One of the biggest budget challenges facing Gov. Rick Snyder is reining in the skyrocketing costs of serving nearly 2 million people now on Medicaid in the state. Jan. 23, 2011– Lansing State Journal

Gilda Jacobs: Tax credit boosts economy

The year 2011 is supposed to be the year to support jobs, working families and small businesses in our state. Unfortunately, we’re off to the wrong start. One of the first budget-balancing ideas from the new legislative leaders is to kill a jobs-producing tax credit that is a proven economic stimulant for local communities. Jan. 23, 2011 — Battle Creek Enquirer

Help fight homelessness in your community

Audrey Dowell

Audrey Dowell

There are more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness in Michigan. Because of this, they all too often forgo the little things that most of us take for granted, like warm clothing and hair cuts.  You can do something to help.

Project Connect is an effort to help those who are at risk for, or currently experiencing homelessness. For the past five years, Project Connect has been offering a variety of important services at events held throughout the state. These services include such practical things as assistance with filling out job applications and government forms,  to the provision of much needed medical care.

In 2009-2010, Project Connect offered services to more than 14,000 people at over 50 events throughout the state. More than 3,200 citizens volunteered their time at these events to reach out to those who have difficulty obtaining life’s basic necessities.

This year, a number of Project Connect events have already been scheduled and volunteers are welcome and needed. In Charlotte on Thursday, for example, volunteers will staff the Eaton County Project Homeless Connect.

To find out more information about when Project Connect events are scheduled in your community, go to the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness website. Your help can make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, and help assure all the residents of our great state a brighter future!

— Audrey Dowell

Snyder delivers first State of the State

 Republican Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his first State of the State address to Michigan lawmakers and the public Wednesday night. Standing before a joint session of the Michigan legislature, Snyder clarified a vision for Michigan, but provided very little in terms of details on how the state would bridge its estimated $1.8 billion budget deficit.  Jan. 20, 2011  —  The Michigan Messenger

Medicaid-welfare cuts could cost Michigan

There are close to 10-million people in Michigan. And almost three-million are now receiving some kind of state assistance. Half of them are children.  Jan. 19, 2011  —  Michigan Radio

State of the State positive

January 19, 2011
Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 410-5798 or Gilda Z. Jacobs at (248) 227-6228

 

Statement by Michigan League for Human Services Gilda Z. Jacobs on Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address:

“We are very optimistic about the investments that Gov. Snyder wants to make. He wants results. We want results. There are programs that are successful in helping to lift people out of poverty, such as the state Earned Income Tax Credit, and we are confident that when the governor and the Legislature see the positive results of investments like this, they will embrace them and not erase them.
 
We offer to sit at the table to help the governor move the state forward.
 
Also, we are heartened that Gov. Snyder understands that we need to address childhood poverty, infant mortality and reading by the end of third grade as measured in the new Michigan dashboard (www.michigan.gov/midashboard).”

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The Michigan League for Human Services is a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide policy and advocacy group for low-income citizens. It has a network of 1,500 individuals and organizations from business, labor, human service professions, faith-based organizations as well as concerned citizens.

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