FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2019
Contact: Ross H. Yednock, Program Director, MEIC
Yednock@cedamichigan.org | 517.485.3588
Michigan’s Free Tax Filing Programs Get Boost from the Consumers Energy Foundation
$200,000 grant will help train volunteers to prepare taxes and ensure tens of thousands of Michigan taxpayers receive free income tax assistance services
LANSING – Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation, tens of thousands of Michigan taxpayers will be able to get help in filing their federal, state and city income taxes by IRS-trained and certified volunteer tax preparers. Considering that state and federal tax credits can add up to more than $8,000, free tax filing programs are a huge boost for Michigan taxpayers. The grant will support several Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) efforts:
- Michigan Economic Impact Coalition (MEIC) training and support of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites
- Cost of scheduling appointments through Michigan 2-1-1
- Outreach around the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Michigan Homestead Property and Home Heating tax credits
“The Consumers Energy Foundation is proud to support this effort to provide free, professional income tax services to Michiganders and put more money into the pockets of those who need it most. It is another way we emphasize our triple bottom line commitment to the people, planet and prosperity of Michigan,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation.
The VITA program, sponsored by the IRS, ensures taxpayers receive assistance from trained and certified volunteer tax preparers at no cost. Volunteers undergo rigorous training in tax law and are required to pass several IRS certification tests before meeting with clients. Paid tax preparers are not regulated in Michigan, which means that anyone, regardless of training, competency, or ethics is able to charge unsuspecting clients to prepare and file taxes, often resulting in errors or missed credits. More than 100,000 Michigan taxpayers go to free tax sites every year. With the average cost to file a basic federal and state return at $179, VITA sites save Michigan consumers more than $17.9 million in tax preparation fees each year while ensuring returns are filed correctly.
“The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ doesn’t really work when it comes to tax preparation,” said Ross H. Yednock, Director of the MEIC at CEDAM. “The fact is, paying absolutely nothing to get your taxes prepared by an IRS trained and certified volunteer has proven to be a much better value for a lot of hard-working taxpayers when it comes to quality, accuracy and savings. But these free-to-the-taxpayer services do require significant resources, which is why we are so grateful for the support of the Consumers Energy Foundation. Their continued commitment to this work has helped hundreds of thousands of Michigan families over the years access tens of millions of dollars in state and federal credits.”
Free tax filing programs like VITA and TCE require significant time, resources and volunteers to keep them operating. The 2020 tax filing season will begin soon and sites are looking for new volunteers to be part of the program. It is a rewarding experience. Interested parties can go to either MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org or the IRS volunteer page, irs.gov/individuals/irs-tax-volunteers, for more information and to be connected to a site near them.
The MEIC, a program of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), unites individuals, organizations and local initiatives committed to supporting tax credit and asset building opportunities for Michigan families through improved access to free, quality, income tax preparation assistance. MEIC members work to improve outcomes for families, workers and children by linking free tax preparations services with opportunities to build assets, savings and achieve financial security. CEDAM is a nonprofit membership organization that represents hundreds of individuals and organizations committed to revitalizing and rebuilding Michigan through community economic development. For more information about CEDAM, visit cedamichigan.org For more information about the MEIC, visit meic.cedamichigan.org .