1. Get money back at tax time when you save your receipts!

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    Minnesota parents who keep their back-to-school shopping receipts can get more at tax time when they claim the Minnesota K-12 Education Credit on their return. Take it from Tameya who has a son and received 75 cents back on every dollar she spent on school supplies in 2013. For Tameya, saving her receipts went a long way. Last April, her father underwent a triple bypass surgery, suffered a major stroke, and was left paralyzed on the left side of his body. Living on her own income to support her and her son, Tameya lost her job while caring for her father and mother. Tameya felt a great deal of relief when she learned that she qualified for Prepare + Prosper’s free tax preparation services where a volunteer assisted her in claiming tax credits like the K-12 Education Credit. Here’s what you need to know to claim the K-12 Education Credit: You may claim this credit on your Minnesota income tax return for up to 75% of qualifying educational expenses which you can see below. There is a maximum household income limit: Qualifying Children Household Income Limit 1-2 $37,500 3 $39,500 4 $41,500 5 $43,500 6 or more $43,500 plus $2,000 for each additional child   Save your receipts! To claim the credit save your receives for when it’s time to file taxes and keep them somewhere you can remember to find for tax season. You must prove you paid the expenses showing each item. The credit amount is up to 75% […]
  2. Martha’s story

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    In 2001, Martha became a homeowner and dealt with everything that goes along with homeownership: property taxes, deductions, exemptions, etc. Like many people, she was overwhelmed and intimidated about her taxes and paid a lot of money—money she didn’t really have—for someone else to prepare them. Martha’s income level qualified her for free tax preparation and she was pleasantly surprised to get a large refund. Martha got her taxes done for free and saved her more than $200 in tax preparation services. She said the free tax prep volunteers were friendly, professional and helpful and she felt “so comfortable” asking questions about her tax forms. “My annual refund is now a steady part of my income,” Martha said, who works at Family & Children’s Service in Minneapolis. She spends her professional day helping people as a Family Life Education Specialist. Martha also spends her personal day helping others: she’s made several referrals to Claim It!  She said her goal is “to make sure hard-working people don’t get taken advantage of during a stressful situation.” Thank you to Greater Twin Cities United Way for this story. GTCUW attacks poverty in the Twin Cities through 10 measurable goals across three focus areas: Basic Needs, Health and Education. One goal is increasing the income of hardworking families in our community.
  3. Free Tax Clinics Come to the Karen Community

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    Filling out tax forms can be overwhelming for just about anyone, but for newly arrived refugees, it’s nearly impossible. Without assistance from qualified tax preparers, refugees are prone to making mistakes that can trigger an audit or keep them from getting their full refund. This year, the Minnesota Department of Revenue is hosting two free tax clinics at Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM) to help refugees from Burma file their federal, state and property tax returns. Paula Gizachew and Chue Yee of the Department of Revenue assisted 18 households during the first tax clinic held on February 22. Paw Moo, who arrived in the United States in 2012, said she was very grateful to receive help since she did not feel confident filling out the tax forms by herself. “In here, it feels safer because they help you with everything,” she said. She was excited to learn she will receive a refund this year and said she plans to keep the money in savings “just in case.” While all appointments at KOM’s tax clinics have been filled, refugees needing tax assistance are welcome to visit another site in the metro area. (Refugees who do not speak English should bring their own interpreter or find a tax site that provides interpreters.) The Minnesota Department of Revenue operates several free tax clinics for low income people through a grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Services are provided by staff and volunteers from the Department of Revenue at no cost to participants. To learn […]
  4. “Bundling” tax services with care

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    One of our great RSVP tax aide volunteers, Don, came striding down the hallway at the Mahube-Otwa Detroit Lakes office. He was carrying a small baby. He said, ” This little gal came in with her parents to have taxes filed. It is below zero outside today and she came in with no hat. There MUST be a baby hat here at Mahube that we can give her.” “You do that kind of thing, right?” As a Community Action Agency, Mahube-Otwa does very much do “that kind of thing.” Since Mahube-Otwa is the host site for the RSVP program, we have lots of hats and mittens and blankets for residents who are in need. So we fixed up the little baby girl with a new hat, baby mittens and a blanket. And her parents got their tax return e-filed along with all the tax credits for which they were eligible. This very young new family learned how to dress their new baby properly for Minnesota winters as their taxes were prepared. They also were given the opportunity to enroll in Early Head Start. This is what can happen when program silos get dismantled, and volunteers as well as staff members share in the community action mission. Mahube-Otwa is a non-profit that serves the community in Mahnomen, Hubbard, Becker, Otter Tail and Wadena counties and also hosts free tax preparation services. Special thanks to Karen Lenius, Senior Programs / RSVP Director at Mahube-Otwa for providing this story,