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Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan 2-1-1 for the Michigan Association of United Ways, Accounting Aid Society and DTE Energy promote Tax Credits at Detroit event Many low-income Michigan wage earners may not know they are eligible

Contact: Gisgie Dávila Gendreau, marketing and public relations director, 517-373-7394

March 4, 2010

DETROIT - Michigan taxpayers who claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on their federal tax return are eligible to claim a Michigan EITC as well - one that's twice what it was last year - Michigan Department of Human Services Director Ismael Ahmed and partners said at an outreach event today.

"In these challenging economic times, earned income tax credits of up to $6,788 can make a big difference in the lives of low-income families who are struggling to make ends meet," Ahmed said. "We strongly urge those who qualify to utilize this and other helpful resources."

Once claimed, EITC funds can be used to pay for utilities, car repairs, preventing eviction or foreclosure, building savings and assets or any other critical need.

Many low-income wage earners may also qualify for the Homestead Property Tax Credit and Home Heating Credit.

Ahmed spoke at the Accounting Aid Society where DHS, in partnership with the Michigan 2-1-1, Accounting Aid Society and DTE Energy, hosted an informational event to increase public awareness of the EITCs, Homestead Property Tax Credit and Home Heating Credit, and to encourage more Michigan residents to file for the credits.

"The EITC has no effect on certain welfare benefits," Ahmed said. "In most cases, EITC payments won't be used to determine eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Food Assistance, low-income housing or most Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments."

More than 11,000 people called Michigan 2-1-1 to be prescreened for eligibility for the EITC and to be referred to free tax preparation sites in 2009, Michigan 2-1-1 Director Sherry Miller said.

"Low-income Michigan wage-earners need to claim their entire EITC and can do so by using free community tax preparation sites," she added.

2-1-1 is currently active for more than 80 percent of Michigan residents. For those who live in areas not served by 2-1-1, a toll-free number is available at 800-522-1183. 2-1-1 is active in Wayne County.

About 711,000 Michigan tax payers claimed the Michigan EITC for tax year 2008, State Treasurer Robert J. Kleine reported before the event.

"The average Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit for tax year 2008 was $204, or 10 percent of each taxpayer's federal credit," Kleine said. "That means more money back in each taxpayer's pocket. Eligible Michigan taxpayers will be able to claim a 20 percent Michigan credit on their 2009 Michigan tax return."

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of eligible workers fail to claim the federal EITC. However, workers who missed filing in previous years can file an amended return to claim the credit, going back three years.

This year, with assistance from the Michigan 2-1-1 telephone system, free tax help from the Accounting Aid Society, and information from DTE Energy, low-income taxpayers can easily access helpful tax credit and tax preparation information.

"The Earned Income Tax Credit is an important credit and deserves emphasis. There are also several additional new credits at the federal and state levels that will increase refunds as well as credits such as the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit and Home Heating Credits that are sometimes overlooked. Accounting Aid Society volunteers can help ensure that all available credits are considered," said Marshall J. Hunt, CPA, director of Accounting Aid's Tax Assistance Program.

DTE Energy, parent company of Detroit Edison and MichCon, encourages its customers to file for the Home Heating Credit, a state energy credit that is applied to a utility bill to offset the costs of natural gas used to heat homes in the winter.

"The Home Heating Credit is based on household income, the number of exemptions claimed and the home's actual heating costs," said Winston Feeheley, the utilities' energy assistance manager. "Department of Human Services recipients and people who receive other public assistance may be eligible for the credit if they are currently responsible for paying their energy bill. Special exemptions also may be available to customers 65 and older, and to people with disabilities."

For more information on DHS, please visit www.michigan.gov/dhs. For more information on 2-1-1, visit www.uwmich.org/2-1-1. To locate an Accounting Aid Society free tax-preparation site please visit www.accountingaidsociety.org or www.michiganeic.org.

 For more information on the Home Heating Credit visit the DTE Energy Web site at www.dteenergy.com.

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