Training the Trainer: Learning to Claim Earned Tax Benefits
By Office of Communication
Posted on December 04, 2012, December 04, 2012

Here's a sad but true fact: Each year millions of working American families forgo valuable income when they fail to claim tax credits for which they qualify. Tax credits from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) provide a financial boost to families struggling to make ends meet.

Another fact: Many families simply don't know about these tax benefits. And, what they don't know, they can't claim.

"That's why we're here,' said City of Arlington Grants Manager Sheryl Kenny, who along with Cynthia Jensen, Regional Director of United Way Arlington, hosted the Nov. 30 Your Money. You Earned It. Now Claim It! Training Workshop at the Arlington ISD Professional Development Center.

Each year the City of Arlington uses fliers, posters and other literature to conduct public education campaigns aimed at informing families about federal tax benefits. This face-to-face interactive workshop was a first.

Community organizations, social services providers, faith-based groups, schools, advocacy groups, job training and placement programs, and others were represented at the training. These grassroots entities - from Mission Arlington to the YWCA - are better positioned to bring the tax benefits within reach of low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

"We're training the trainers,' said Kenny. "These tax credits are available to all eligible families, and there is free tax preparation assistance available to help families fill out their tax returns. What we want to do is help make sure families know about the credits, and how to claim them, so they don't miss out on thousands of dollars in valuable tax assistance.'

The credits (EIC worth up to $5,891 and the CTC worth as much as $1,000 per child) can be substantial for struggling families, and often mean more than just a refund check.

The tax credits can serve as a bridge for workers to secure better housing, pursue higher education, obtain dependable transportation, cover out-of-pocket health care costs, or pay for quality child care. Knowing about free tax assistance is another way to save cash.

The facilitators gave out loads of information: who is eligible, where to find free tax filling assistance, and the impact and importance of a community Tax Credit Outreach Campaign.

Participants left with free materials including a comprehensive tax credit outreach kit to pass along to potential families.

"This is really about a mind change,' said Ahtatcha Hendrix, senior relationship manager and tax consultant with the IRS, who attended the workshop.

"People are so used to going to a professional preparer, especially this income group. (It's important to) get the right information out and retrain their minds to a different way of doing things. Yet once people know how much money they can get back, they're usually shocked and wonder why they hadn't done it before.'

Training the Trainer