New coalition will help residents with tax credits
Published: Saturday, January 10, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2004 at 11:53 p.m.
A new coalition of public and private entities formed last fall is focused on making sure that Alachua County residents eligible for earned income tax credit refunds get what's coming to them.
FYI: Tax help
"Last year, more than $100 million in Florida and $8 million in Alachua County in earned income tax credit refunds went unclaimed because obviously people either didn't know about them or don't understand them," said Patricia Lee, a management consultant for BCN & Associates and a coordinator for the Alachua County Coalition for the Empowerment of Families (ACCEF). "We don't want a repeat of that this year. That $8 million in the pockets of Alachua County citizens can do wonders for the citizens as well as for the economy of Alachua County."
The lead organizations for ACCEF, which was formed last fall, are the East Gainesville Development Corp., Alachua/Bradford Regional Workforce and BCN & Associates, with city and county government support. Additionally, University of Florida student members of the National Association of Black Accountants and of the National Society of Black Engineers are participating, as well as a number of local organizations and churches, Lee said.
The coalition's goal is to train as many volunteers as possible to e-file residents' income tax returns to ensure that eligible persons receive earned income tax credits.
So far the group has held two training sessions and more are planned, Lee said.
"The training will go on until the end of February. We need a lot more volunteers," she said.
Jim Hencin, block grant manager for the city of Gainesville, is among those working with Lee to help get the coalition's program up and running.
"I've been working with her and John Skelly from the county to put together a program to go out and encourage local residents who qualify to apply for and receive earned income tax credit," Hencin said. "We are encouraged that we've got the program in place and a number of volunteers are coming in."
The coalition's tax-help sessions for residents officially begin on Thursday, at 9:30 a.m. at the Downtown Career Center, 249 W. University Ave., following an opening ceremony.
Two other sites, the One-Stop Career Center on NE 16th Avenue and Mount Carmel Baptist Church, will become sites for providing tax help, Lee said.
"We'll also use laptops to go to other sites around the county to help prepare tax returns," she said, adding that the times and locations for those sites will be announced later. "We're looking for volunteers to be trained as tax preparers and to help out generally at the tax preparation sites."
Doris Chandler can be reached at (352) 374-5094 or email@example.com.
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