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Gary program aims to get taxpayers bigger refunds

Myer Blank True Partners Consulting gestures while answering questions during press conference announcing program offering free tax preperatifor Gary residents

Myer Blank, of True Partners Consulting, gestures while answering questions during a press conference announcing a program offering free tax preperation for Gary residents Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013. The program, sponsored by the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, will utilize IRS Certified Volunteers. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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How to help

Anyone interested in volunteering for the city’s free tax preparation program can call the Urban League of Northwest Indiana at 980-2093. Training sessions will be held at the Urban League office, 3103 Broadway, beginning Jan. 12.

Updated: February 10, 2013 5:56PM



GARY — File your taxes. Get a bigger refund. Spend it in Gary.

The city, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and others Tuesday announced free tax preparation services, focusing on helping residents land the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, beginning later this month.

The officials also said they are recruiting volunteers to do the tax preparation for residents.

Ultimately, the goal is to get more money into residents’ pockets and purses, and, hopefully, they will spend that money on the local economy, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.

“Not only does it mean more money in individuals’ pockets but more money in our community,” she said.

The EITC is a refundable income tax credit for low- and medium-income individuals and families, mainly with children. For example, a family earning up to $50,270 may be eligible for up to almost $5,900 with the EITC, while individuals without children, who earn almost $14,000, may still be eligible to get about $475 back.

Communities that take advantage of the EITC can generate millions more dollars in tax refunds, said tax consultant Myer Blank, of True Partners Consulting, who managed Chicago’s EITC program for 10 years. In 2011 alone, 20,000 Chicago residents racked up $35 million in EITC refunds.

“What we are trying to do is get more money on both fronts, that’s money from the IRS and saving the cost of going to a (for-profit) tax preparer,” Blank said.

Residents with family incomes under $51,000 can get free tax preparation at the Urban League office, 3101 Broadway, starting Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays and Saturdays.

“We are ready, and we are in position to serve the citizens throughout the community to save money on their income taxes,” said Urban League President and CEO Vanessa Allen.

The key will be residents bringing in the appropriate paperwork and tax preparers and screeners who are credible and trustworthy, said the Urban League’s Shanta Belyeu, who is managing the tax preparation program.

Along with face-to-face training, tax preparers will train on the IRS’ web-based program.



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