Mayor John DeStefano Jr. is calling for volunteers to help New Haven residents fill out their income tax forms. Volunteers will be trained and certified by the nationwide IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

There is no charge to residents who make use of the program.

Volunteers will help local residents to make use of two federal anti-poverty programs, Earned-Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Many people do not realize they qualify for these programs and, as a result, the programs are under-enrolled. Earned-Income Tax Credit provides the working poor with an average benefit of $1,600 and the Child Tax Credit provides up to $600 per child to working poor families.

A recent GAO report estimates that almost 25 percent of those eligible nationwide for the Earned-Income Tax Credit did not apply for it. In New Haven, increased enrollment in Earned-Income Tax Credit would add up to about $5,000,000 for the city’s neediest residents.

“It is important to let residents know that these programs exist,” DeStefano said. “We need volunteers to help those who are eligible for these important benefits.”

Income tax assistance volunteers will also help residents avoid dependency on tax preparers who charge large fees for their services.

Since tax preparation begins in January, those interested in volunteering for the program should call now to set up training. Preparations will continue until April 2003.

Hours are flexible and Spanish-speakers are particularly encouraged to apply. Those interested should contact Elizabeth Russell at 946-8482.

–Yale Daily News