Mayor Swearengin Applauds Initiative to Educate Taxpayers About Earned Income Tax Credit

Mayor Ashley Swearengin today applauded a partnership to educate eligible taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit program and provide free tax preparation and filing services.

Mayor Swearengin joined representatives of the Wal-Mart Foundation, United Way of Fresno County and One Economy to announce her support for the initiative, which will provide low- to moderate-income residents with assistance in claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“In these tough economic times, it’s more important than ever to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to access the resources that are available to us,” Mayor Swearengin said. “That’s why this joint effort is so important. It will connect – for free -- low- and moderate-income Americans with the assistance they need so they can get the credits and refunds they deserve.”

The Wal-Mart Foundation has provided $3.6 million in grant funding to establish United-Way supported Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites and the first-ever free mobile tax filing tour funded by a national retailer.

More than 15,000 individuals and families missed out on the money last year simply because they did not know that they should file for the credit. As a result, Fresno area residents missed out on more than $26 million in refunds.

Mayor Swearengin said the earned income tax program is believed to be the single most effective tool in lifting more people out of poverty than any other federal program. That’s particularly important for Fresno as the city tackles its areas of concentrated poverty.

In addition, Mayor Swearengin said the earned income tax program can help families who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck in these difficult economic times. It also will help strengthen Fresno’s economy as families spend those dollars on the goods and services they need in the community.

Finally, Mayor Swearengin said the joint program will connect low- and moderate-income residents with free tax preparation services and help them avoid lenders who charge preparation fees and lock residents into high-interest refund-anticipation loans that just put needy families deeper in debt.