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Detroit wants more residents to take advantage of Earned Income Tax Credit

Detroit health department employee Mariah Allen says the EITC will be a "great relief" for her family.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Detroit health department employee Mariah Allen says the EITC will be a "great relief" for her family.

Tens of thousands of Detroit households who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit don’t claim it, leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table.

Now, the city is expanding services to help eligible residents get that money.

The Earned Income Tax Credit helps lower-income working families, and it’s a substantial boost for many. The average EITC refund is $2400.

That’s why the city of Detroit wants to get the word out to everyone who qualifies. It could also help the city boost income tax collections, which are often evaded by city residents who work in the suburbs.

Even so, most of those residents would still benefit from claiming the EITC. A single head of household earning less than $18,200 a year would receive a $5752 refund.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says too many people are missing out on a lot of money. Sometimes, it’s money that could mean the difference between relative stability and living in poverty.

“Last year, 26,000 Detroiters left $80 million in Washington, D.C. in unclaimed refunds,” Duggan said.

“The earned income tax credit can put money directly in Detroiters’ pockets, and could even make the difference in their ability to stay in their home or pay their utility bills.”

The city is working with the IRS, and agencies including the United Way and the Accounting Aid Society, to offer more free tax-preparation assistance at sites across the city. The AAS is training 500 volunteers to help with that.

The city and agencies will also launch education and outreach campaigns encouraging people to file their taxes and claim the EITC.

Mariah Allen, a 25-year-old peer breastfeeding counselor with the Detroit Health Department, is expecting her third child. She says getting the credit will be a “great relief” for her.

“It helps me catch up on past bills. It helps me get ahead on other bills. This year it will aid on the purchasing of a new home,” Allen said. “It’s so important to get back what you earned, and what you worked hard for.”

Detroit residents looking for assistance and eligibility information can contact the United Way by calling 2-1-1, or visit the EITC page on the city of Detroit’s website.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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