WELCOME TO EDG's COMPREHENSIVE TAX PROGRAM!
EDG’s Tax program started in 2005 in response to the need to help low income taxpayers not only receive their tax refund money, but also help them maximize and understand the various tax credits that they are eligible for. The tax refunds and credits help them and their families get out of poverty and build their assets. The program started out as a simple free tax preparation program, but then branched out to various projects and initiatives. We now have seven projects under the tax program, each of which receive separate funding from private foundations,Federal and county governments. The tax program has blossomed, thanks to the seed grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement– Administration of Children and Families, from a simple initiative to a relevant program aimed at helping low income clients understand the tax system, maximize the credits they could potentially get, help taxpayers keep the assets they have worked hard for, and even use them to build their assets so they can achieve the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. The program has already gained an award from a Metro DC based organization not only for excellent customer service, but also for the amount of money it has saved its taxpayers and the innovation it has introduced to tax preparation general. The program has also attained regional and national recognition, through active participation in various conferences and various media outreach.
The following are the various projects under the ECDC EDG Tax program.
VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE
The VITA program started out in 2005. It utilizes certified volunteers to help low income clients prepare their taxes. We serve clients whose incomes are below $50,000 (as of 2012) , or whatever the threshold is for EITC. The program also aims to explain the earned income tax credit, or EITC, to the clients. This credit is the biggest anti-poverty transfer of money to low income individuals and families. Every year, we help 500+ clients prepare taxes, which saves them an average of $200 per person in tax preparation fees. As of 2011, we have already helped more than 2,228 low income clients receive $3.0 M in refunds, of which 487 were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and received extra $780,145 in their pockets. It is being funded by the Virginia Community Action Partnership and Fairfax County, and Northern Virginia CASH Coalition.
LOW INCOME CONTROVERSY CLINIC
The LITC Controversy Clinic is one of the latest addendum in EDG’s Tax Program. It started in 2010. The goal of the LITC Controversy Clinic is to help low income taxpayers resolve their issues and controversies with the IRS. Many clients receive notices from the IRS because their taxes were done by unqualified tax preparers. They also receive notices simply because their spouses owed the IRS. Some have no means to pay their IRS liabilities, while some are victims of fraud. But whatever their reasons are, our program helps them navigate the situation and come up with a solution. Some common problems are installment agreements, offers-in-compromise, currently-not-collectible, injured spouse claims, innocent spouse claims, audit assistance, levies, and liens, etc. We help clients whose liabilities are below $50,000 and those who are considered as low income taxpayers by LITC standards. It receives funding from the Taxpayer Advocate Service –LITC Program Office, and as of 2010, we have helped more than 50 clients with issues with the IRS.
ASSISTED SELF TAX PREPARATION
The ASTP program is simply a free tax preparation program and self-sufficiency rolled in one. Unlike the VITA program, clients prepare their taxes by themselves, with our guidance using a chosen software. The program promotes self-sufficiency in preparing taxes, and it is best for those who are technology savvy, those with internet and email capabilities, and of course low income individuals. ASTP started in 2010 with an initial grant from the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation. It has so far helped more than 165 clients receive $181,500 in refunds and save $33,000 in tax preparation fees. Like the VITA program, we also explain to clients their case, tax credits, and other relevant information to educate them about the tax system.
CERTIFIED ACCEPTANCE AGENT FOR IRS TAX ID NUMBERS
Those ineligible for Social Security Cards but work in America and want to report their incomes have no way to report their taxes except if they have tax ID numbers, or ITINS. We were chosen by the IRS to act as certified acceptance agents to help these clients to report their taxes and get their refunds and be involved in the US economy. We have helped more than 150 clients apply for their tax IDs. Part of the program is explaining to them their rights and responsibilities as ITIN holders, and the limitations of the ITIN as a document.
ESL LOW INCOME TAX CLINIC
The ESL LITC is an outreach and training program aimed at teaching clients with English as their second language (i.e. ESL clients) their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. Many ESL clients are new in America and are less aware about the tax system. We inform them about their various rights and options when they owe money to the IRS; what options they have to separate themselves from their spouse’s liabilities they are innocent of; how to keep refunds that are in jeopardy because of their spouses’ liabilities, among other things. This program started out in 2010 with a funding from the Taxpayer Advocate Service-LITC program. As of 2012, we have already helped more than 1000 clients become aware of their taxpayer rights and responsibilities.
Now and then, we implement other relevant initiatives to benefit our taxpayer clients. Among these are:
OPENING OF BANK ACCOUNTS for the UN/UNDERBANKED. We have partnered with local partner banks to open checking and savings account to clients who are interested. Clients then receive bonuses from these banks from $25 to $100, just for opening bank accounts.
PROMOTING RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TO CLIENTS. Many Americans have stopped saving for their retirements. We are promoting opening retirement accounts like IRAs, 401-Ks , 403-Bs, savings bonds, and other retirement accounts that can be linked during and after tax season. We educate clients about tax credits and other possible deductions and benefits that they may receive as a result of opening a retirement account before the tax season ends. This program started in 2011 and was funded by the National Community Tax Coalition.
PROMOTING THE INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNTS. IDAs help people save so they can receive matched funds from the state or federal government, to help them build their assets—go back to school, start their businesses, purchase a home, buy a second hand car, among other assets. We help clients start their IDAs and invest their refund money to these accounts.
THE 1040-101. The '1040-101' is our very own curriculum which we teach to all our tax clients. Basically, it explains the 1040 system in a personalized way. We teach clients how their refund or liabilities were derived from the interplay of their income, tax credits, etc., and teach them more about deductions, adjustments, exemptions, and other tax terms in as simple way possible, using laymen's language. The goal is for them to understand the tax system. Most tax preparers do not bother to explain what happened to their clients, so they remain naïve about their situations. This cycle of ignorance creates opportunities for fraud, overcharging of fees, etc., and this is what we are trying to change at EDG.
NEED HELP? CONTACT US NOW:
Roman M. Corpuz, Jr.
Clinic Director, Low Income Tax Clinic and the EDG Comprehensive Tax Program
703-685-0510 ext 257