Press Release: Early Tax Filing for Many Coloradans
For Immediate Release Media Contact:
February 7, 2017 Kindle Fahlenkamp-Morell
Over 360,000 Coloradans likely to file taxes before the end of February
Most early filers can avoid fees, get better refunds at free tax sites
Denver, Colo. – February is crunch time for the 126 Colorado Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites that began opening late last month to provide free tax preparation for individuals that made $54,000 or less in 2016. Over 360,000 Coloradans are likely to file their taxes early because they need their tax refund to help make ends meet.
Coloradans that qualify for the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) often file before the end of February because they use their refunds for existing expenses, or big purchases they may not otherwise be able to afford – such as a car to get to work or a security deposit on a new apartment.
VITA sites like those run by Tax Help Colorado, a program of The Piton Foundation, are designed to help low to moderate wage earners access free tax help and claim the EITC and other tax credits for working families. “Many families cannot afford the average $250 it costs to go to a commercial tax preparer,” said Courtney O’Reilly, Tax Help Colorado program manager. “The advantage of using a VITA site is that we have IRS-certified preparers, helping families get the best refund possible.”
O’Reilly also warned that taxpayers should be wary of the “tax refund loans” now being offered by the three major commercial tax preparers. “These loans end up taking a slice out of families hard-earned refunds in two ways. In addition to the fees for getting your taxes done, your loan is put on prepaid cards that can have fees associated with them,” she said.
The federal EITC is a refundable credit for working people with low to moderate incomes, and this year could be worth anywhere from $506 to $6,269 for Coloradans depending on their marital status, income and number of qualifying children in the household. Last year Colorado increased this benefit by passing a bill for a state EITC worth 10 percent of the federal credit, meaning Coloradans could an even bigger refund.
Unfortunately, an additional 118,000 qualifying Colorado families miss out on these credits every year because they don’t they are eligible, or don’t know about VITA services offering free tax preparation assistance.
Taxpayers with annual incomes under $54,000 qualify for free tax help and can call 2-1-1 to find a free tax site near them, or go to www.piton.org/tax-help to search online. Taxpayers with incomes under $64,000 can file online for free through myfreetaxes.com, which includes prompts to walk them through the process.
Learn more about the Tax Help Colorado program and The Piton Foundation’s EITC Outreach campaign at www.piton.org/tax-help-colorado.
About The Piton Foundation
The Piton Foundation, which is part of Gary Community Investments, is a private, operating foundation established in 1976 by Denver oilman Sam Gary. It is committed to improving the lives of Colorado’s low-income children and their families by increasing access to quality early childhood and youth development opportunities and fostering healthy family and community environments. In addition to investing in creative solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families, Piton operates its own programs, including the Data Initiative, Tax Help Colorado, and the nation’s largest and longest-running Earned Income Tax Credit public information campaign.