Detroit encourages residents to claim earned income tax credit

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city is urging working Detroiters to claim their earned income tax credit to increase their tax refunds when they file taxes this year.

“The wealthy have a whole range of tax credits available to them,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Friday. “Lower- and middle-income people have one. It’s the earned income tax credit.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Duggan spoke at the Durfee Innovation Society to kick off the city’s campaign encouraging residents to claim the credit. He was joined by officials from Accounting Aid Society, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and Detroit at Work.

Detroiters have claimed $56 million in earned income tax credit annually in recent years. The average tax credit refund for Detroiters is $3,430.

“This is real money for lower-wage earners,” Duggan said. “This is your tax break. I promise you, the wealthy are taking advantage of every one of theirs and this is the chance for Detroiters to take care of ours.”

Eligibility for the earned income tax credit is based on income, filing status and the number of qualifying children one can claim on his or her tax return. 

In an example provided by the city, a single person with no children who earns less than $15,000 could get back as much as $529. A married couple with at least three children, filing a joint tax return and earning less than $55,952 combined could receive the max earned income tax credit of $6,557.

To help Detroiters prepare their tax returns, Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency have trained a team of 500 to staff 21 free tax preparation sites throughout the city. The service is free for individuals with incomes up to $56,000.  

Residents can also drop off their taxes at 10 intake sites and pick them up once the return has been repaired.

"We know that tax time can be stressful, and we want our services to be as convenient and easily accessible as possible," said Karen MacDonald, executive director of community and economic development for Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.

Detroiter India Bell said she learned about the earned income tax credit while having her taxes prepared by Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. She encouraged others to claim their credits, too.

“I’ve utilized my earned income tax credit to pay off bills, to do home repairs, to pay for supplies my daughter needed for college,” she said. “Also, I have a senior in high school. It will help with things that are coming up for her as well. We also took a mini-vacation.”

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