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Feb-19-2008 10:26printcomments

United Way of the Columbia-Willamette Promotes Earned Income Tax Credit, Thanks to Bank of America Donation

Funding from Bank of America and United Way will support NAYA in promoting and implementing culturally competent tax preparation services for the community.

Salem-News.com Business Report

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Families and individuals who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit will get an extra boost this tax season, thanks to a Bank of America Charitable Foundation grant to the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation will donate $2 million donation to the United Way of America for national asset building and EITC efforts. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is among 44 United Ways across the nation that will receive a donation from Bank of America to help people obtain free tax preparation assistance and unclaimed tax refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Typically, Earned Income Tax Credit is available to most families earning less than $39,783 annually; and to individuals with an annual income of less than $12,590.

Based on 2005 tax year data, 56 percent of returns filed in the Portland area – or 205,023 tax returns – are eligible for EITC. Yet, only 46,933 returns claimed credit. For working families claiming EITC, the average EITC refund is $1,567.

To promote EITC to eligible tax filers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has partnered with Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA Family Center) and CASH Oregon. Both NAYA and CASH Oregon are launching EITC campaigns to conduct outreach to eligible tax filers and offer free tax preparation for individuals and families earning less than $39,783 annually.

"Helping families and individuals build wealth is a key priority for Bank of America," says Roger Hinshaw, market president, Bank of America Oregon. "By working with United Way, CASH Oregon and NAYA, we hope to help more people effectively navigate the tax system, access free tax preparation services and secure the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and thereby advance the health and vitality of the Portland/Vancouver metro region."

CASH Oregon is a community partnership that promotes financial stability for eligible families and individuals in the tri-county Portland area through free tax preparation. In partnership with the AARP Tax-Aide Program, CASH Oregon helped delivered free tax preparation to over 11,721 local taxpayers in 2007. The total federal and state refunds for these taxpayers were over $13.5 million, while the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit accounted for over $6 million.

This year, CASH Oregon is looking to expand its offerings, with the help of a $10,000 United Way grant to launch and promote an EITC campaign. CASH Oregon will open new walk-in "super sites" with greeter and child care services, and offer extended hours to accommodate the needs of working families. The grant also will enhance multilingual outreach to eligible families and individuals, and create mobile units that can reach taxpayers at more convenient locations and times.

Through a $5,000 grant from United Way, NAYA Family Center will launch an EITC campaign targeting Portland's urban Indian community. Now through April 15, tax preparation help is available from 6 to 9pm, every Tuesday and Thursday at NAYA Family Center, 5135 NE Columbia Blvd. in Portland.

Funding from Bank of America and United Way will support NAYA in promoting and implementing culturally competent tax preparation services for the community.

NAYA Family Center's EITC campaign will allow more Native American families to file and receive tax credits, says Kate Bucko, NAYA's Community Development Manager.

"Promoting the Earned Income Tax Credit in Portland's urban Indian community will have a real and immediate impact on working low-and middle-income families who may not have otherwise been aware of the benefits of this tax credit. Increasing access to tax credits will improve families' ability to save, to not be victimized by predatory tax preparation fees, and to put their family's cash to work," Bucko says.

Interested in learning about the EITC? Visit the CASH Oregon website at cashoregon.org to locate a free tax site in the Portland metro area or call CASH Oregon at (503) 243-7765.

To learn more about the NAYA Family Center EITC campaign, visit nayapdx.org/community-services/tax-preparation.php or call Kate Bucko at (503) 288-8177 ext. 229 to make an appointment.

About United Way of Columbia-Willamette

United Way of the Columbia-Willamette invests donor contributions in health and human services in Clark, Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. Volunteers and community experts identify critical issues and make investment decisions that are targeted at the region's most serious challenges. Through a commitment to collaboration, partnership and measured results, United Way improves people's lives and creates long-term change in the community. Visit unitedway-pdx.org.

About Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy

Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, Bank of America is in its fourth year of achieving an unprecedented 10-year goal to donate $1.5 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods. Funded by Bank of America, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give more than $225 million in 2008, making the bank the most generous financial institution in the world and the second largest donor of all U.S. corporations in cash contributions.

Bank of America approaches giving through a national strategy called "neighborhood excellence" under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Through Team Bank of America, bank associate volunteers contributed more than 650,000 hours in 2007 to enhance the quality of life in their communities nationwide. Visit bankofamerica.com/foundation.

Source: Bank of America

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