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Menino declares tax credit weekend

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent / March 29, 2009
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Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared this weekend "Earned Income Tax Credit Weekend" in Boston, in an effort to shed light on a state and federal tax credit that can send up to $5,500 back to families.

"It's a very important program, especially during these difficult times," Menino said in an interview with the Globe. "The family or individual who gets the check can use it to pay for a tuition bill or pay off the heating bill for the winter. It's a program that puts people back on the right track."

Menino is expected to be at the Greater Zion Church of God in Christ in Roxbury today to talk about the tax credit and urge residents to use any 25 free tax preparation sites around the city.

"We're just honored. We're a little church, and for Mayor Menino to pick us, we are honored," said Bernadette Fernandes, deacon.

The church visit is part of Menino's effort to galvanize faithbased institutions to promote tax issues in the final push to the April 15 deadline.

"Knowledge is power," Fernandes said. "If you're not educated on these tax breaks, how are you going to be able to get out of this rut? The mayor coming out to explain this to us - a lot of people are going to be able to come out of this recession together."

Menino said he feels the churches were a natural and comfortable place to reach people on important issues.

"Many people go to [faith] services on Sunday. It's a good way of reaching people to have different congregations endorse the concept," Menino said. He said the faith-based venues might make hesitant residents more comfortable dealing with tax issues.

This year, the city's tax centers have processed 7,000 returns resulting in about $5 million in earned income tax credit refunds and $12 million in total income tax refunds, the mayor's office said in a statement. The earned income tax credit is available for working families that earn under $42,000.

The city has a hot line, 617-918-5275 and a website, www.bostontaxhelp.org, to address questions.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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