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MAYOR GRAHAM RICHARD

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Some Fort Wayne residents go to work every day, Monday through Friday, sometimes on the weekends and sometimes at night. Many have children, and many are single parents. Despite their hard work, they still find that they are barely able to make ends meet. There is a way to reward these low-income working families.

The IRS sponsors the Earned Income Tax Credit Program, and I am committed to making sure that people in Fort Wayne who are eligible for this tax credit apply for it. I plan on partnering with social service organizations, the faith-based community, business organizations, the media and large employers to help publicize this program and to sponsor Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites free of charge to those who need help completing the forms.

This is how the EITC works: Families making less than $28,281 and have one child may be eligible for a maximum $2,428. Families making less than $31,121 and have more than one child may receive a maximum $4,008. And, if you are single or married without children and make less than $10,710, you may receive a maximum $364.

The positive effects of the EITC include:

It reduces poverty. In 1999, 4.7 million people were lifted above the poverty line, compared with 2.3 million in 1993. More importantly, 2.5 million children were lifted out of poverty in 1999. This is more than any other federal program.

It promotes work and rewards people who work.

It reduces income inequality.

It helps low-income families build assets.

The EITC not only benefits the recipients but the entire community. Research has shown that families receiving the tax credit generally circulate it right back into the economy. However, many in our community who are eligible for the credits have not applied for them. A report from the IRS shows that in 1999, 50 percent of Allen County residents were below the EITC threshold. Only 22 percent of these people claimed EITC.

This is precisely why we need to step up our efforts to let residents know there is help available to them. We can help families receive tax credits, and we can help stimulate our economy at the same time. For more information, contact Southwest Neighborhood Specialist Gina Kostoff at 427-1122.

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