Michigan CUs Help Filers Boost Refunds

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Michigan's credit unions, in concert with the Michigan Poverty Law Program, report that a partnership to help low- to moderate-income individuals and families get all the tax benefits available to them has led to more than $500,000 in credits and refunds in its first month.

The program uses free Web-based resources to help individuals and families file for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can be as high as $4,400, and the Michigan Home Heating Credit.

Dubbed "Just file it! We'll help: Free tax preparation resources for those who need it most," the program is available from about 100 credit union websites around Michigan, and available at www.justfileithere.org.

"More than $200 million in federal tax refunds go unclaimed in Michigan annually by the people who need it most-low-income families and individuals," said Steve Gray, attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program. "Further, many low wage filers use tax preparation services and assume refund anticipation loans (RALs) to access income tax refunds. These services often charge excessive fees and onerous interest rates at the expense of those who can least afford it."

The Michigan league reported that the technology backbone of the program was developed by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Calif. The MCUL underwrote the cost of developing the state income tax software in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and the Michigan Poverty Law Program.

A public service announcement (PSA) ad produced by the MCUL is being aired to draw attention to the service.

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