East Hawaii News

Senator Hirono Reminds Residents of New Tax Credits

February 22, 2016, 3:05 PM HST
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Senator Mazie Hirono. U.S. Senate photo.

Senator Mazie Hirono. U.S. Senate photo.

Senator Mazie Hirono is urging the public to utilize newly-permanent tax credits as residents begin to file their 2015 taxes.

Representatives from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the AARP Foundation Tax Aide program, and Catholic Charities Hawai’i joined Senator Hirono over the weekend to promote the tax benefits and free tax services available to seniors and low-income households.

Signed into law in December as part of the Senate’s FY2016 omnibus package, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are available for Hawai’i families. Senator Hirono and advocates remind the public to check for eligibility.

“As Hawai’i families start preparing their 2015 taxes, we want to make sure that they are taking advantage of every tax credit they’ve earned, which will reduce the amount of taxes eligible families will have to pay, or perhaps even provide a tax refund.  This extra cash will allow families to purchase more food, pay rent, or meet other basic needs,” said Senator Hirono. “For years, I have supported expanding the EITC and CTC and making these tax benefits permanent. I am proud to have been an original cosponsor of legislation that made this a reality.

About 108,000 households in the state of Hawai’i claimed an average Earned Income Tax Credit of more than $2,200 last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service. One out of every five taxpayers who were eligible for the EITC across the country failed to claim the credit.

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“TAS applauds Senator Hirono for reaching out to the EITC community and its advocates to raise awareness of this important program, which lifts millions of U.S. taxpayers out of poverty,” said Gayvial James, Taxpayer Advocate Service.

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“AARP joins Senator Hirono in encouraging Hawaii residents to take advantage of the tax credits available to them,” said AARP Hawai’i State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “Last year, AARP Foundation Tax Aide counselors helped Hawai’i taxpayers realize more than $1 million in Earned Income Tax Credits and more than $500,000 in Child Tax Credits. This money made a significant difference in the lives of seniors and their families. We urge taxpayers to take advantage of the tax credits they’re entitled to when filing their returns.”

“For the 22nd year, Catholic Charities Hawai’i is proud to partner with AARP in providing free tax preparation for our kupuna and low- to moderate-income individuals,” said Catholic Charities Hawai’i President and CEO Jerry Rauckhorst. “This invaluable program will be available at two Catholic Charities Hawai’i locations on Oahu and our Kona office on the Big Island to assist those who qualify for the service make the April tax deadline.”

In addition, those who received an Advanced Premium Tax Credit for their 2015 health insurance coverage also need to file a tax return to be eligible for the credit again next year.

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