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Posts Tagged ‘tax’

Conservatives are often big proponents of ending the “marriage penalty” on federal income taxes. Basically, the “penalty” refers to the higher tax rates that married couples face than if they have filed their taxes individually as “heads of household.”

Yesterday, the Innovation Lab team met with our free tax preparation team, who are planning their 2010 tax season. The program’s goal is to make sure every eligible family receives the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is the largest federal anti-poverty program in the U.S. and provides up to $5,600 to working families with children. We’re working together to find ways to reach more of our Head Start and other early childhood program families through the tax program and to make sure they receive the EITC.

In that meeting, I came to learn something I didn’t know. Families with a tax filer who has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are not eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. ITIN’s are provided by the IRS to any tax-payer that does not have a social security number – mainly certain categories of immigrants (and not necessarily undocumented). These tax-paying workers are denied access to a critical family-supporting credit, even if the other parent does have a social security number. That leaves out a potentially huge swathe of working families from the government’s most important family-supporting, work-promoting, anti-poverty program. And it penalizes the children of married parents, and marriage itself, when one parent has an ITIN.

I’d like to see someone get behind ending this marriage penalty.

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I was pleased to see recent news that President Obama used his weekly address to announce new initiatives to promote savings. (White House, New York Times, New America Foundation). Among other ideas, he charged the IRS with implementing a checkbox on tax returns that would allow you to save a portion of your refund in savings bonds. Behavioral economics teaches us that making saving simpler and available at an opportune time will lead to more people saving. CAP worked with D2D Fund in a pilot to offer savings bonds through our free tax preparation program.

Additionally, the president is seeking new rules that would encourage employers to automatically enroll their workers in retirement plans unless employees opt out. As I’ve mentioned before, “opt out” rules increase take-up of positive behaviors dramatically without limiting one’s freedom or constraining their choices.

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user alancleaver_2000.

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The Oklahoma Policy Institute announced the coming launch of their very own blog. Citizens take note: you will have no excuse to lack basic (and thorough!) awareness of the most important policy issues facing our state. That includes this frightening fact: state revenues for February came in 30.4 percent below projections. That’s $104 million that we thought would be there and isn’t.

In other blog-related news:

  • For CAP employees: We now have a link on the Inside CAP website, under “News and Info.”
  • The Nudge blog linked to our story about behavior change and Tulsa printers. As Diama says, “this is nerd famous.”

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The following post contains outdated information from 2009.  To view the most up-to-date information, please visit CAP Tulsa’s website or check out our 2014 Tax post for more resources.

Most of you probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, hear this: CAP runs a free tax preparation program for families who earned less than $50,000 in 2008. Volunteer tax preparers are trained and certified by the IRS to make sure customers receive every credit they’re eligible for. And the electronic filing means you’ll get your refund nice and quick.

If you work at an agency with people that may be eligible, please encourage them to schedule an appointment. The program’s 8 locations spread literally across the city (north, east, south, west, and midtown). Call 382-3333 to schedule an appointment.

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