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City continues free tax prep services this season, with focus on engaging many with help on ITIN renewals
The City of Chicago, with The Center for Economic Progress and Ladder Up, will today resume the annual Tax Prep Chicago program, a free citywide federal and state tax preparation service. In addition to standard assistance with tax preparation this year, Tax Prep Chicago sites will provide residents with assistance on renewing their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)—used to file taxes in lieu of Social Security Number—per changes to federal law this year.
“Every year, Tax Prep Chicago helps thousands of residents across the city to maximize their tax returns, yielding thousands in credits per household that make a significant difference for so many of our families,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Tax Prep Chicago will again provide Chicagoans—regardless of their status—a trusted source for taxes, as well as current information on federal changes so that they can maximize returns and support their families.”
To spread the word on the changes to tax filing this season, the Mayor’s Office of New Americans will convene dozens of offices to enlist their support with engaging residents across the city in renewing their ITIN and to comply with recent changes to federal law—which is required before a person’s 2016 tax refunds will be released by the IRS.
“Chicago truly is a sanctuary city, and part of that is making sure all of our city residents are aware of the laws that affect them, but also the resources available to them,” said Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “To help residents both renew ITIN and to protect them from predatory agencies that are known to target our immigrant communities, the City of Chicago is urging residents to seek reliable assistance at one of the Tax Prep Chicago sites.“
It is estimated that tax credits and refunds direct tens of millions of dollars into immigrant communities each year, and also that thousands of ITINs belonging to immigrants in the city are expired as of January 1, 2017. The ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number, and is issued regardless of immigration status.
“We are here to ensure Chicago residents get their federal and state income tax returns prepared accurately and free of charge so they can get all of their tax refund as quickly as possible.” said David Marzahl of Center for Economic Progress. “Everyone benefits when working people keep more of what they earn.”
In addition to the ITIN renewals, recent federal changes are also expected to delay refunds for Chicagoans in 2017. Last year, it was announced that new federal laws would result in delayed tax refunds for taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) to be delayed. To inform residents of the changes and to help them prepare, the City partnered with CEP and Ladder Up on an outreach campaign in 2016, ahead of the holiday season.
“The federal tax code is often changing and we are here to make sure residents have the information and resources they need,” said Christine Cheng of Ladder Up.
Preparation of returns using ITINs is one of many services offered each year by Tax Prep Chicago for families earning up to $55,000 and individuals earning up to $30,000 annually. To support residents in claiming all of the money available to them, the city is encouraging residents to seek trusted support through any one of the 19 sites. A full list of sites and corresponding hours is below:
Each year, thousands of eligible households in the City do not claim the EITC and other key credits, leaving as much as $200 million in unclaimed dollars that could help individuals and families meet basic needs. Last year, Tax Prep Chicago services assisted 20,000 residents and families in securing $31 million in tax refunds and credits.
For more information on federal requirements and the resources available for tax preparation this season, please visit www.taxprepchicago.org.
About the Center for Economic Progress:
For 25 years, CEP has been on the forefront of turning tax time into an opportunity for low-income workers and their families to get ahead. Since 1990, CEP has served more than 370,000 hard-working, low-income families and individuals in Illinois, returning over $560 million and counting in tax refunds to clients. During the 2015 tax season, CEP put over $30 million back into the pockets of over 17,000 Illinois families, including over $13 million in the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). For more information, visit www.economicprogress.org.
About Ladder Up:
Ladder Up is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization committed to helping hardworking families and individuals access the financial resources they need to move up the economic ladder. The organization offers free programs to help Chicagoland clients prepare their tax returns, learn about and apply for financial aid for college, and develop a foundation for sound financial decision making. Since 1994, Ladder Up has served more than 280,000 clients and helped them secure over $506 million in financial benefits. For more information, visit www.goladderup.org.