More El Paso County families eligible for special tax credit, experts say

February 6, 2014 Updated: February 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

El Paso County residents received $103 million last spring through a special tax credit for low-to-moderate income families.

The problem? Millions more in rebates were available to county residents, according to the Pikes Peak United Way.

A push is on to help people apply for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit - a tax benefit meant to help the poor make ends meet.

The program offers rebates of up to $6,044 for families making less than $46,227 who have three or more children, according to the United Way. The rebates vary depending on how much people make and how many children they have.

Residents also can apply for unclaimed tax credits from previous years by submitting a Form 1040X, called an "Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return."

The impact of those tax credits can be immense, said Jason Wood, the Pikes Peak United Way's chief executive.

"A lot of times, it's used to cover those basic needs and goods," Wood said. "A lot of those monies aren't used for anything amazing. they're there to provide that safety net for those families."

Two organizations specialize in offering free tax help to people who may be eligible for the tax credit.

The United Way offers free, bilingual tax preparation services through April 14 for people unsure about whether they qualify for the tax credit.

To schedule a consultation, call United Way's 211 service, or call 955-0742. Consultations take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Already, the phone line has been busy fielding requests for the tax credits.

On Monday, 211 received 195 calls - 60 percent of which involved requests about the federal tax credit, according to Vicki Dimond, the nonprofit's spokeswoman.

"They're one emergency from going into a bad situation," Wood said. "And this provides those funds to hopefully prevent that from occurring."

Pikes PeakCommunity College students also offer free tax return appointments for families making less than $50,000 a year.

The students are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays through March 22 on the second floor of the college's AspenBuilding, 5675 S. Academy Blvd.

Consultations also will be available from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the college's RampartRange campus, 11195 Highway 83.

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