Tax credit helps some Chicago filers

April 15, 2010 6:31:42 AM PDT
It's down to the wire for tax procrastinators. Thursday is the deadline to file income tax returns.Some last-minute filers are finding that recent changes mean they are getting back money they were not expecting.

With last year's stimulus program and other changes to the nation's tax laws, it turns out something called the Earned Income Tax Credit is making for some happy tax filers as the deadline approaches.

There are several places where those who have not completed the task can find out if 'Uncle Sam' has more money for them than they might have expected.

At Harold Washington College, the city hosted one of several tax preparation clinics staffed by volunteers from the business community.

All one has to do is arrive with all the right forms showing income and address.

"It is a complete shocker because any other places I used to go to, I was getting less than $400," said Chicago resident Nik Biggs.

Biggs is single, and while she would not tell ABC7 Chicago the size of her expected tax refund, she says she has been told her college tuition payments and the earned income tax credit, related to the part-time work she did in the past year, allows her to think big thoughts.

"[I will] buy a lot of things I have always wanted to buy," said Biggs. "[I'm going to] put a down payment on a car."

Biggs, like most of the people getting help, have incomes of less than $25,000 or $50,000 for a family. Since 1999, that has qualified them to take advantage of the free tax preparation clinics the city coordinates in the name of social justice.

"It is money coming back to the neighborhoods. I mean, when you are talking about $5,600, that's money that can go to education, transportation, housing," said Myer Blank of the Chicago Tax Assistance Center.

The IRS is expecting to receive about 6 million federal tax returns from Illinoisans this year. As of the end of last week, it had received about 4.2 million, of which three-fourths were e-filed.

The average U.S. refund is $2,960, which is $255 more than the same time last year.

But while money from Uncle Sam is a bonus to some, it is a burden to others, as demonstrated by many of the speakers at an anti-tax Tea Party rally in Boston Wednesday, a day when the New York Times reports that 47 percent of Americans do not pay any income tax, which is up from 38 percent in 2007.

Click here for a list of Free Tax Preparation Sites