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Bill Filing for Financial Security in Mass

Posted by mmiley on 04/08/2013

Tags: Massachusetts, EITC, Asset Limits, Financial Security, asset development, Midas Collaborative

Following the release of the CFED's Assets & Opportunity Scorecard in Massachusetts, the Midas network was busy with bill filing at the beginning of our 2 year session. The report on Massachusetts shows that despite having very high average incomes, relative to other states, many Mass households are financially fragile.

Though 12% of Mass residents are considered below poverty-which is likely an underestimate in this high-cost state- 37% of Mass households are one emergency away from financial disaster and 47% have sub-prime credit scores. Th CFED's national report was covered on national media, including NPR, Huffington Post, and the Twitterverse, and the Massachusetts report was covered locally in CommonWealth Magazine, on WBZ, BlueMassGroup, Boston Business Journal, and MassLive.

Financial security bills filed:

An Act Removing Barriers to Financial Stability and Asset Development for Low-Moderate Income Residents will increase asset limits for people on public assistance, allowing them to save money in preparation for making a transition from public benefits. It responds to the situation wherein people are trapped on public benefits because they cannot save or earn enough to substitute them, causing the so-called "cliff effect" (loss of stability) that results when transitioning off of benefits. (HD 1270/SD604) {Sen Eldridge/Rep Forry}

Pathways for Family Economic Self-Sufficiency would create some pilot education and training programs for low-income families to be administered by the Commonwealth Corporation. Not an asset bill, but it does support financial mobility and is strongly supported by Midas members, ABCD and Crittenton Women's Union.(HD872/SD501) {Sen Donoghue/Rep Khan}

A Bill to Increase the State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 15% to 20% of the federal EITC. It adds to what is considered the most effective anti-poverty program in the country. (SD883) {Sen Creme}

An Act Relative to Establishing a Disaster Emergency Tax Credit allows working poor to increase their tax refunds by applying the Earned Income Tax Credit thresholds to replace items ruined in disasters declared by president. For people who typically do not own homes and do not qualify for Small Business Administration loans under FEMA and are most economically vulnerable because of displacement in housing and jobs. An asset-protection effort. (HD3047) {Rep Fox}

We will support later efforts to increase financial education and savings during the budget process in the coming weeks.

Thank you to those who made calls to support financial security!

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Audio Press Conference on PA Scorecard

Posted by hwinokur on 04/02/2013

Tags: EITC, VITA, Pennsylvania, PA

4/1/13: Pennsylvania’s Lead Local Organizations, including the Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition, held an audio press conference: Fool for Finance? Pennsylvania Needs to Improve Asset Building, Debt Reduction and Business Opportunities. The call focused on some of Pennsylvania’s results from the CFED Scorecard, and recommendations for amelioration.

The Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition coordinator, Harriet Winokur, spoke about the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an anti-poverty and asset building opportunity. She advocated for the creation of a PA state EITC to provide additional benefits to PA’s low income residents, and to the state economy.

Ms. Winokur also spoke about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and its importance for low-to-moderate income residents and their communities. She emphasized the necessity of additional support for VITA from all levels of government.

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Raise the State EITC to offset new gas tax

Posted by rmckinney on 03/26/2013

Tags: EITC, tax

The House of Delegates has passed a transportation package that includes raising the gas tax. The increase will impact families making less than $25,000 by almost $100 per year once it is fully phased in. This does not include the potential impact on the increased costs of goods and services due to higher gas costs. Increasing the Maryland Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would give families the ability to cover price increases.

Please call your state senator today to show your support for SB703.

This year more than ever, it is critical that Maryland increase the refundable EIC to offset the negative individual economic impacts on low- and moderate-income workers of the increases in the gas tax. Having a stable and livable income enables these workers to maintain a foothold in the world of work, meet the needs of their families, and begin to build a more secure financial future.

In 2012, over 395,000 Marylanders claimed $861 million in federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits. The average taxpayer received a refund of $2,180, over 12% of their annual income (average $17,000). Many families use their refunds for rent, utilities, food, and savings. Many also use their refund to purchase a car, which enables them to access higher-paying jobs.

  • The EITC as a critical resource for helping families build a foundation for family economic success. This bill would raise the MD EITC from 25% to 30% of the federal credit.
  • The EITC rewards work by helping working families get onto the first rung of the economic ladder.
  • The EITC provides income support to help low-wage workers get by on entry-level jobs.
  • The EITC gives low- and moderate-income workers the opportunity to catch up on their debts and bills, and, in some cases, even begin to save through access to financial counseling and low-cost financial services.

The Senate needs to offset the cost of an increased gas tax by raising the Earned Income Tax Credit (SB 703). Call or email your state senator today!

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RealSense Prosperity Campaign marks 10th year of growth in free tax preparation services

Posted by jwinkler on 02/20/2013

Tags: free tax preparation, northeast florida, realsense, real$ense, fscj kent campus, united way of northeast florida, earned income tax credit, EITC

"For the third year in a row, Jacksonville resident John Kelso got his tax return prepared free by the Real Sense Prosperity Campaign.

Kelso had used national tax preparation companies in the past. But he is working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, so he said being able to file his return at no cost makes a big difference to him.

“The cost of gas has gotten so expensive that every penny counts,” he said.

Heading into its 10th year, the nonprofit Real Sense Prosperity Campaign has become a go-to site for tax preparation for thousands of Northeast Florida residents like Kelso.

Since 2003, Real Sense has coordinated hundreds of volunteer tax preparers working at sites in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, Baker, Putnam and Flagler counties.

It’s posted a sharp increase in clients, going from 1,563 returns its first year to 16,629 returns last year.

“We really try to target our message to hardworking, low-income folks who have simple tax returns and don’t need to be paying somebody to do their tax returns,” said Jeff Winkler, director of Real Sense.

The campaign is aimed in part at people who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can result in refunds at tax time. Last year, Real Sense prepared 3,802 tax returns for people able to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. Those returns generated almost $6.3 million in refunds for those taxpayers.

Bonnie Moore, who oversees the Real Sense site at the Kent Campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville, said even when clients have been able to find jobs, they are struggling financially. Sometimes, they need to work two or more jobs to get by, she said.

“I haven’t seen the economy rebound the way we’re all hoping for — not for the bulk of the clients we’re seeing,” she said.

Real Sense is affiliated with the United Way and draws support from an assortment of government, business and philanthropic sources.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is providing $200,000 for this year’s campaign, accounting for about one-third of the budget. The city of Jacksonville is providing a $61,573 grant.

Real Sense also has year-round programs with financial education classes and counseling. A three-year, $300,000 grant by Wells Fargo enabled the opening of a financial service center at the bank’s branch in the Springfield neighborhood."

david.bauerlein@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4581

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Maryland CASH passes suite of asset building/protection policies

Posted by rmckinney on 04/11/2012

Tags: EITC, prize-linked savings

Maryland CASH Campaign advocated for 5 key asset building and asset protection bills this session.

Making Work Pay

Maryland CASH supported a 5% increase in the state Earned Income Credit to offset regressive tax and fee increases. HB 331/SB 943 were both heard in their respective houses. The Senate included a 5% increase in the EITC, spread over 5 years, in their approved budget plan. The House budget did not include the EITC, but did not impact households making less than $100,000. By the last day of the session, the House and Senate could not pass a comprehensive budget and were forced to pass the “doomsday budget.” Since the 2 houses could not agree, the Governor will be calling a special session to stave off the impact of the $500 million of cuts, set to begin on July 1, 2012. Maryland CASH will monitor the special session to make sure that low-moderate income taxpayers are not negatively impacted.

Making Savings Fun

Maryland CASH passed a bill in 2010 to allow credit unions to offer savings promotions raffles, also called prize-linked savings. A last-minute amendment from the banking industry delayed implementation until banks could participate under Federal law. Maryland CASH passed HB 786/SB 1053 to broaden the program to banks and credit unions, while balancing the prohibitions on banks to offer raffles at the federal level. Maryland CASH worked closely with the banking industry to craft a bill that works for both banks and credit unions. The law goes into effect on June 1, 2012.

Protecting Credit and Homeownership

Maryland CASH pushed HB 555/SB 295 to allow parents/guardians to freeze a credit report for minors or other protected persons. This is the first law of its kind in the country. Currently, a credit reporting agency cannot freeze a report for a minor, since they do not knowingly create reports for minors under the age of 18. This bill helps to prevent identity theft and allows minors/protected persons to better manage their own credit.

HB 600/SB 580 prevents cancelled debt due to a mortgage foreclosure from being considered as taxable income. Since 2007, the federal government has exempted this debt from income, but this provision is set to expire on December 31, 2012. These bills will protect homeowners from state tax debt if Congress fails to act. Given the recent Attorney General settlement with mortgage lenders, there is great concern that homeowners may not access the benefits/programs available if they think it could be taxable.

Sustaining the Asset Building Field

Maryland CASH pushed HB 515/SB 476, which creates a new Financial Education and Capability Commission. This standing commission will include various state agencies, non-profits, and funders who will monitor financial education and asset building activities and make policy recommendations. This bill builds off of the work of the Financial Literacy Task Force, which ran from 2008-2010. In order to balance out a costly fiscal note, an amendment passed to have Maryland CASH staff the commission. Maryland CASH will be the first non-governmental agency to staff a legislative commission in the state’s history.

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Maryland CASH pushes suite of asset building policies

Posted by rmckinney on 03/19/2012

Tags: EITC

Maryland CASH Campaign is pushing 5 key asset building and asset protection bills this session. With just 3 weeks remaining in the session, all bills are showing strong support and movement. Sign up for action alerts to get the latest information!

Making Work Pay

Maryland CASH supports a 5% increase in the state Earned Income Credit to offset regressive tax and fee increases. HB 331/SB 943 have both been heard in their respective houses. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee included the 5% increase, spread over 5 years, in their budget report to the full Senate. The full Senate adopted the EITC increase. The House is currently deliberating on the Senate's plan.

Making Savings Fun

Maryland CASH passed a bill in 2010 to allow credit unions to offer savings promotions raffles, also called prize-linked savings. Maryland CASH is pushing HB 786/SB 1053 to broaden the program to banks and credit unions, while balancing the prohibitions on banks to offer raffles at the federal level. The bill has been heard in the House.

Protecting Credit and Homeownership

Maryland CASH is supporting HB 555/SB 295 to allow parents/guardians to freeze a credit report for minors or other protected persons. If passed, this would be the first law of its kind in the country. Currently, a credit reporting agency cannot freeze a report for a minor as they do not knowingly create reports for minors under the age of 18. This bill helps to prevent identity theft and allows minors/protected persons to better manage their own credit. The Senate passed the bill unanimously and is awaiting a vote in the House.

HB 600/SB 580 prevents cancelled debt due to a mortgage foreclosure from being considered as taxable income. Since 2007, the federal government has exempted this debt from income, but this provision is set to expire on December 31, 2012. These bills will protect homeowners from state tax debt if Congress fails to act. Given the recent Attorney General settlement with mortgage lenders, there is great concern that homeowners may not access the benefits/programs available if they think it could be taxable. Both bills have been heard.

Sustaining the Asset Building Field

Maryland CASH is supporting HB 515/SB 476, which creates a new Financial Education and Capability Commission. This standing commission would include various state agencies, non-profits, and funders who would come together to monitor financial education and asset building activities and make policy recommendations. This bill builds off of the work of the Financial Literacy Task Force, which ran from 2008-2010. In order to balance out a costly fiscal note, an amendment passed to have Maryland CASH staff the commission. The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House.

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Connecticut Earned Income Tax Credit More Successful Than Expected

Posted by cmorduch on 02/10/2012

Tags: Connecticut, EITC

February 10, 2012

GOV. MALLOY: STATE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN EXPECTED

Program helps working families and puts millions back into state’s economy

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that more than 70,000 Connecticut income tax returns have been processed from taxpayers requesting and benefiting from the new Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“Connecticut’s new Earned Income Tax Credit, like the longstanding federal Earned Income Tax Credit, provides an economic incentive for low income working families,” said Governor Malloy. “Higher than anticipated EITC applications show just how hard hit these families were during the recession. The additional income the credit provides will help families pay for essentials such as clothing for children, medical care, reduction of household debt, or other living expenses and perhaps even begin to save for the future.”

To date, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) says that approximately $49.3 million in EITC credits have been approved to qualified applicants. DRS said this follows the trend of other EITC states with the majority of EITC claims being submitted in January and February. In all, the state expects as many as 190,000 Connecticut taxpayers to request the CT EITC.

“We are early in the first year of Connecticut’s EITC,” Governor Malloy said, “but we believe it is already making a difference in residents’ lives. At the same time, it’s a real reinvestment in the state’s consumer economy.”

The maximum CT EITC payment is $1,725. Combined with the federal EITC, the maximum payment a Connecticut family can receive is $7,476. Both programs are expected to put as much as $500 million into the hands of state residents. The EITC program also includes strong safeguards against fraud.

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