Broad Effort To Assist Low-Income Taxpayers Returns

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The Lower East Side People's FCU has again launched one of the broadest credit union-sponsored efforts in the country to get low-income people qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit and VITA Tax assistance.

According to LESPFCU, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program is the nation's largest antipoverty program and although the number of monies refunded to low-income families continues to increase, "there is still a large number of people who qualify for this credit but do not claim it."

The CU estimates that in New York City alone, there are several hundred thousand families who qualify but do not apply for the EITC, costing them approximately $500 million. LESPFCU is offering the assistance at its branches.

"Those who claim the EITC pay a hefty price if they use commercial tax preparers," LESPFCU said in a statement. "Every year billions of dollars are diverted to commercial tax preparation firms to pay for tax preparation, electronic filing, and refund anticipation loans, which represent a tremendous loss for low-income communities."

The credit union, with help from elected officials and private foundations, has been working to create what it calls "asset-building programs" so that lower-income people can become more self-sufficient. "The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a segment of the tax code that is designed to help working Americans," said Rep. Nydia Valezquez (D-NY). "Unfortunately, many Americans simply don't know about it. We need to continue to work to make sure you have the resources to continue your work. I have made sure credit unions are in a position to lend to the community."

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