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January News

24 January 2019
January News

 

Community Action Impact Report

Today the National Community Action Partnership Office released the Community Action National Impact Report: Building Opportunities for All. The report is designed to tell Community Action's story and impact all across the country. This report amplifies Community Action's promise and shows how different agencies work, from financial coaching services for Michigan families, to employment programs in Georgia. The report shows how Community Action Agencies across America are responding to local needs.

Click here to download the report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Missing the Earned Income Tax Credit at Tax Time?

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a free tax program that was initiated in 1971 to ensure taxpayers get all tax credits they are due. Volunteers are IRS certified to provide free federal and state tax return completion and electronic filing for those earning less than $55,000. Our partner program, MyFreeTaxes.com is a do-it-yourself tax preparation site using H&R Block software for those earning under $66,000.

In 1971, 1 of 4 eligible people in Utah were not getting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and that number has not changed very much since. In fact, across the nation there has been no noticeable impact in any state. 

When searching for reasons why people would not claim EITC, there are ideas and thoughts but nothing proven. Research papers, colleagues around the country, people in think tanks all have the common answer that people don’t know about EITC. In the day of electronically filed returns it's hard to believe, since any program will automatically see that you are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit and assign it to your return.

Why don’t people claim this credit then? Many people are told by the IRS and other organizations that there is a filing threshold to meet before you have to file. For example, this year if you are single and earn less than $12,000 you do not have to file. If we are told we don’t have to file taxes, wouldn’t we feel relief? I don’t have to pay someone, take time to get an appointment, make time in my day, and worry about filing taxes. Thanks, you made my life easier!

Yet a single person with $12,000 or less in earned income could receive a maximum of $503 in Earned Income Tax Credit. A single person with dependents, usually filing as Head of Household will be told they don’t have to file if they earn less than $18,000. A married couple will be told they don’t have to file if they earn less than $24,000. But they would miss out on EITC from $2,000 to $6,400 with three qualifying children. They are also eligible for the Child Tax Credit. Income for this credit must be earned from a job or business.

Last tax season we had a client with a W-2 listing $100 income. She came in to check to see if she should file but did not expect anything back. At $100 she was not required to file but she had an appointment and we were happy to do the return to see what she would get. Result: $10.

The next barrier to filing a return might be that you have to spend money to get some money back. You might think it would cost $100 to get $100 back and it is not worth it. But at a free VITA site you will receive the entire amount back for no fee. You can call 2-1-1 to make an appointment, go to utahtaxhelp.org to see sites around the state with hours and days of operation and schedule your own appointment, or connect to our do-it-yourself site at myfreetaxes.com.

Don’t lose Earned Income Tax Credit! Visit utahtaxhelp.org

 

 

2019 Legislative Session

 

The 2019 Utah State Legislative Session begins on Monday, January 28th and runs for 45 days. 104 women and men, elected to represent the residents of Utah, make up our state legislature. 29 senators and 75 representatives are responsible for Utah's annual budget and laws that are passed, amended, or repealed at the state level. It is critical that ALL Utah residents and their views are considered. At CAP Utah, our staff works to keep the struggles of those in poverty throughout the state in mind when our legislature is considering laws and budget changes that could affect this vulnerable population.

Here are some of the issues CAP Utah is following this session. If you'd like to know more, follow our 2019 Bill Tracker.   

  • H.B. 103 Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit - State EITC for those experiencing intergenerational poverty 
  • S.B. 34 Affordable Housing Modifications - Encourages municipalities to plan and zone for affordable housing. Provides funding to the Olene Walker Fund, which supports quality affordable housing options that meet the needs of Utahans 
  • H.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Supporting Rural Development of Wind, Solar, Hydrogen, Hydroelectric, and Geothermal Energy - Supports the development of renewable energy in rural areas 
  • S.B. 11 Medicaid Dental Coverage Amendments - Expands Medicaid dental coverage to elderly Medicaid patients 
  • H.B. 47 Early Childhood Coordination Amendments - Creates the Early Childhood Utah Advisory Council using recommendations from DWS, building on existing systems 
  • S.B. 83 Partnerships for Healthy Communities - Creates the Partnerships for Healthy Communities Grant Program to improve long-term health outcomes for children.

Capital

Do you know who represents you? It's easy to find out!

Go to le.utah.gov

Click on 'My Legislators'

Enter your address

CAP 60 Training 

The CAP60 User Conference is a collaborative event that brings agencies in the area together to network, exchange ideas, and learn more about the CAP60 system. A training will take place in Murray the following day:

Date: February 25th-26th
Location: 5284 S. Commerce Drive
Murray, UT 84107

Click here to register. A block of hotel rooms have also been set aside at the Crystal Inn in Murray. Mention CAP60 for a special group rate.

 

Census Information

2013-2017 American Community Survey Estimates

Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2013-2017 American Community Survey (ACS) estimates. The 5-year estimates represent data collected over a period of time on social, economic, demographic, and housing characteristics of the U.S. population. The Census provides reliable statistics that are used to make informed decisions for research purposes, businesses, education, journalism, and advocacy. This is the most relied-on source for up-to-date demographic information every year. In Utah, some of our rural counties have very low populations (Dagget County has an estimated population of 702!) so using five years of collected data is the most reliable data that analyzes the largest sample size. 

Some highlights for Utah's 5-Year Estimate

  • During 2013-2017, Utah had an estimated population of 3.1 million
  • 11.0% of Utahns were in poverty
  • 89.2% of Utahns had health insurance coverage 
  • 91.8% of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school
  • The median income of households was $65,325
  • The median earnings for full-time year-round workers was $30,094
  • The median property value for owner-occupied houses was $238,300
  • The median gross rent was $948
  • 45.4% of renters were cost burdened (paying 30% or more of their income on housing)

Source

 

2020 Census 

Every 10 years, The United States counts every single resident to help get an accurate picture of the U.S. The statistics are used by the government to evaluate a wide range of programs that support education, nutrition, social services, workforce and community development. The federal government funds over 300 federal programs, and distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to states and communities based on Census data. The need to get an accurate count is critical, since miscalculations can affect federally funded programs. 

Historically, the census has missed certain communities. Young children, people of color, low-income households, and Native Americans living on reservations are undercounted at disproportionately high rates. 

The 2020 Census presents some challenges. The possibility of the controversial citizenship question may discourage immigrant households from taking part in the census, undermining the accuracy of a large population. For the first time in history, the Census Bureau will encourage households to answer the questionnaire online. A lack of access to the internet and to a computer may result in low participation, especially from the elderly population. 

If you'd like to find out more about the 2020 Census and how to encourage participation in your community, visit censuscounts.org

 

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