BANGOR, Maine — AARP Tax-Aide and United Way of Eastern Maine are the leading members of the Eastern Maine Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope, known as EMCA$H, coalition serving Penobscot, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock and Waldo counties.
EMCA$H coalition is preparing to launch what it hopes to be another record-breaking season to help individuals and families gain their maximum tax return possible.
The goal is to help at least 5,000 low to moderate income filers take full advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credits, which provide returns of up to $6,044 this year. The program helps identify other federal tax credits as well. The resulting estimated $4,300,000 in federal tax refunds, which includes an estimated $1,100,000 in EITC this year, plus $800,000 in savings, will be put into the hands of well deserving Mainers for a total $5.1 million that ultimately makes its way back into the local economy.
Currently, depending on their location, only between 3 and 20 percent of Mainers eligible for this free tax support provided by IRS-certified volunteers are taking advantage of it. In addition, 21 percent of Mainers who are eligible for the E.I.T.C. do not claim it. The average wage of those served in 2011 in Maine was $26,000 and the average additional money returned from the E.I.T.C. was $1,800.
AARP Tax-Aide and United Way of Eastern Maine are excited to host the following upcoming EMCA$H Super Free Tax Saturdays: February 8thfrom 8:40 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 8, at the Airport Mall in Bangor; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 8, at Machias Savings Bank in Machias.
Staffed with more than 20 people in Bangor and an unspecified number in Machias, volunteers providing IRS certified tax advice and assistance as well as community driven asset coaching, the Super Saturday is designed to help a large number of individual low to moderate income filers get their taxes filed for free, get their Earned Income Tax Credit, reach their financial goals, pay off debt and save for the future.
The asset coaches will direct individuals to a variety of free financial assistance programs found in their community. Programs focused on prioritizing bills and debts, debt pay-down strategies, reducing expenses, starting and using bank accounts, savings strategies, recordkeeping, household financial risk management and more.
Plus, new this year, the Bangor Super Saturday event will feature professional credit experts on hand to review and advice qualifying individual credit reports (please note that qualifying individuals must prepare and bring their credit report to the event themselves).
AARP Tax-Aide and UWEM also are helping organize ongoing tax preparedness events in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock and Waldo counties over the next few months.
There are dozens of other free tax sites conveniently throughout Eastern Maine between now and April. For more information or to set up an appointment to have help with their taxes, people should cal 2-1-1:
Funding this year for EMCA$H was provided by the following sponsors: United Way of Eastern Maine; Finance Authority of Maine, KeyBank, and the Internal Revenue Service.