Coalition News

One-third of Americans Experience Short-Term Poverty: How Can the Earned Income Tax Credit Make a Difference?

EITC_Bag_Riverside_County

Did you know that over one-third of the U.S. population experiences short term poverty? Many Americans can be poor one month and then not the next, having a varied poverty level throughout the year. Between 2009-2012, 34.5%, over one third, of our population had at least one “spell” of poverty lasting a minimum of two months. (U.S. Census Bureau, Dynamics of Economic Well Being)

Chances are that you can relate to these numbers. If so, you or your clients might be eligible to receive an earned income tax credit (EITC). This is a tax benefit designed to help low- to moderate-income working people get ahead. Eligible workers who claim the EITC on their tax return can receive a refund even if they do not owe income tax. In addition to the EITC, you could also be eligible for the child tax credit or additional child tax credit (CTC/ACTC) or the American opportunity tax credit (AOTC).

How Do I Claim the EITC and receive up to $6,269  in Cash?

Ensure that you receive the credit you have earned and deserve by choosing the assistance that is right for you:

  • Thurston County Free Tax Preparation Service Sites:

The Thurston Asset Building Coalition in partnership with the AARP Free Tax Prep Foundation offer free tax preparation services for low-to-moderate-income working people. The sites are staffed by trained and certified volunteers.

These volunteers, trained by the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program and certified by the IRS, ask you the needed questions to find out if you qualify for the EITC and other refundable tax credits like the Child Tax Credit. Volunteers at Tax-Aide sites, also prepare and e-file (electronically file) your tax return at no cost to you. The program welcomes taxpayers of all ages and backgrounds.

  • IRS EITC Website Information:

https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit

A few guidelines for who is eligible:

While the earned income tax credit is complex and varies by income, family size and your filing status, to be eligible, you must have earned income or certain disability income. This means you must have income from working for someone or working for yourself.
EITC is for workers whose income does not exceed the following limits in 2016:

  • $47,955 ($53,505 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $44,648 ($50,198 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $39,296 ($44,846 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $14,880 ($20,430 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

** Investment income must be $3,400 or less

Don’t Miss Another Year to Claim Your Earned Income Tax Credit!

Last year in Washington state alone, there were 426,000 EITC claims, resulting in $926 million in people’s pockets, on average, $2,177 and up to $6296 per claim!

Find a FREE Tax-Prep site near you.


SAVE THE DATE for our Paid Sick Leave Law Luncheon

Sick Leave Law Luncheon Save the Date.pdf

As of January 1, 2018, all employers in Washington State, regardless of size, must provide non-exempt employees with paid sick leave, so that they can take care of themselves or their families. This is required under Initiative 1433 passed by voters in 2016.

The Department of Labor and Industries recently released its final rules. Among other things, the rules clarify that employers may not impose caps on accrual or use of sick leave required by the law. The rules also require that employers promulgate written policies if they intend to require verification of illness, or if employees must provide advance notice of the need for leave.

If you are a small business owner and are looking for guidance in complying with the law, join us on January 26, 2018 as we discuss the new Sick Leave Law and its impact on small business owners.

  • Keynote Speaker – Eva Coblentz, Paid Sick Leave Outreach Specialist at the Department of Labor and Industries
  • Panel of local small business owners
  • Strategies and perspectives that can assist employers with fewer than ten employees to comply with the new law
Save the Date and stay informed in the new year!
Registration link soon to come!
Presented by Thurston Asset Building Coalition in partnership with Thurston EDC and Enterprise for Equity


Ten ways to eat well on a budget in the South Sound

by Cathy Visser,
Senior Nutrition Director & Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Thurston Asset Building Coalition Steering Committee Member

 

“I can’t afford to buy vegetables from the farmer’s market. I live on a fixed income.” I’ve heard seniors say this more than once. I understand that paying rent, utilities, and medicine comes first. That being said, healthy food is good medicine too. People who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to be overweight or obese. Eating healthfully also helps prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

My agency, Senior Services for South Sound (SSSS), manages eight meal sites in Mason and Thurston Counties. Each meal we serve includes a good source of protein, 2 servings of grains/cereals, 3 servings of fruits and vegetables, and a serving of milk or dairy substitute. Senior meals are available to people 60 years of age and older (55+ for Native American/Alaska Natives) for a donation regardless of income. Although income is a not a qualification for our meals, 40% of people who attend report that they live at or below the federal poverty level. This means that they are living on $990/month or less for a household of one; $1330 or less per month for a household of two. It is hard to eat well on a tight budget, but here is a list of programs that can help.

Ten ways to eat well on a budget in the South Sound!

  • Join us for a healthy meal and social time at a senior meal site near you. You have to be a senior, but you don’t have to be low income to qualify. To see the lunch schedule, go to www.southsoundseniors.org
  • Homebound seniors who cannot prepare meals for themselves may qualify for Meals On Wheels (MOW) regardless of income. In addition to receiving a nutritious meal, the senior will be visited regularly by a caring MOW volunteer. Many seniors tell us that their MOW volunteer is the only person they see some weeks and that the visit helps them feel less lonely.
  • Visit your local food bank. The Thurston County Food Bank provides a variety of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. To find out more, call (360) 352-8597 or go to www.thurstoncountfoodbank.org
  • Use your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/EBT benefits (formerly known as “food stamps”) to buy fresh produce at your local farmer’s market. The Tumwater Farmers Market can help you to double your benefits through the Market Match program. It is open each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May through September. For more information, call 360-464-5879 or visit www.tumwaterfarmersmarket.org.
  • Make your SNAP benefits last longer by using them to purchase plant seeds and starts. For every $1 spent on seeds, home gardeners can grow an average of $25 worth of produce!
  • Locate a community garden near you by contacting your local WSU Master Gardener Program.
  • Sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to receive a share of fresh produce from a local farm. Find farms that accept SNAP/EBT benefits by visiting the Puget Sound Farm Guide at http://www.pugetsoundfresh.org/
  • Free farmers market vouchers for WIC participants and eligible seniors. Contact your local WIC agency or the Lewis-Mason-Thurston Area Agency on Aging for more information

 


We’re Hiring: VISTA Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator

Vistas

The Thurston Asset Building Coalition is looking for an Americorps VISTA to join our team!

Position Title:  Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator
Compensation:  A monthly stipend of $970 paid bi-weekly, an end-of-service educational award of $5815, and other benefits. Visit Benefits of Service to learn about VISTA benefits.
Timeline:  Service Year is November 21, 2017 – November 20, 2017
Location:  4220 Sixth Ave SE, Lacey, WA 98503

The VISTA member will work with the Thurston Asset Building Coalition (TABC) to conduct outreach and manage and recruit volunteers to support financial literacy and asset building services offered by TABC and its members. The VISTA member will also promote and inform social service providers and community members about existing community resources and benefits that will help people in poverty build their assets, including information health benefits, affordable housing, and job development opportunities.

Responsibilities:
The VISTA Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for volunteer recruitment, community outreach, social media outreach, event management, and other coalition capacity building activities, including:

  • Promote and support EITC and free tax preparation services
  • Promote BankOn Thurston and increase awareness about low-cost, safe mainstream financial products
  • Increase service provider and community knowledge and awareness of services and community resources that help people move out of poverty
  • Support and help to plan coalition collaborative learning events
  • Build the capacity of Thurston ABC to support and foster collaboration and information sharing
  • Other outreach and coalition support activities

Apply Today!
View the full job description and apply online here. We will accept applications through September 25, 2017. You must apply online to be considered for this position.


Matchmaking with Dislocated Workers

About Dislocated Workers Quiz  

Now that summer has arrived, many organizations have high hopes for filling their recruitment needs with fresh interns, but finding that perfect match can be a bit risky. Organizations can easily overlook the fact that interns are generally required to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), so getting help finding and working with an intern is prudent.

Take the About Dislocated Workers Quiz  below and find out how you can get the intern’s stipend paid at no cost to the employer!

Quiz (mouse-over for answers):
1.  What is a Dislocated Worker?
(A) Unemployed due to natural disaster
(B) Unemployed due to economic conditions
(C) Unlikely to return to a previous occupation
(D) All of the above

(D) All of the above: A dislocated worker is someone who has been laid off through no fault of their own and is unlikely to return to a previous occupation. He or she may also be self-employed but is unemployed due to economic conditions or natural disaster.

2. Dislocated workers provide employers with:
(A) Experienced talent
(B) Soft skills
(C) Cost effective source of labor
(D) All of the above

(D) All of the above: Dislocated workers come to the table with relevant job experience and soft skills. The dislocated worker intern gets the opportunity to gain relevant experience in their field and employers get access to a cost effective source of labor.

3. Are there internship programs that pay for the dislocated worker’s stipend near you?
(A) Yes
(B) Not

(A) Yes: Check out the Internship Pipeline, a pilot program now being offered by the Thurston EDC in partnership with Pacific Mountain Workforce Development, Career Path Services and regional higher education providers, that offers internship assistance to employers.

4. If I hire a dislocated worker intern could I receive reimbursement for some of their salary?
(A) Yes
(B) No

(A) Yes: If an employer wished to convert their intern into a full-time hire, the Pipeline program would help them apply and qualify for a public workforce grant that will reimburse up to 50% of the new hire's salary for 3 months.

“I have been out of work since December 2016, and this internship has given me back my confidence.” – Wendy Delagarza, Pipeline Internship

To learn more about how you can be matched with a great dislocated worker or other intern, and find out about the benefits to employers using the Internship Pipeline program, contact Gene Angle at the Thurston EDC soon – they have people available for this pilot program now!