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					For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Mickey Nelson/Juliana Minsky, 805/687-3322

Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara Offers Free Income Tax Preparation for Low-Income Families in Santa Barbara
Monday through Thursday, and Saturday hours at two locations through April 15
March 23, 2009, Santa Barbara, CA— The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has opened its free income tax preparation centers for those who qualify. This is the Housing Authority’s eighth year of assisting in the preparation of income tax returns for the low-income earners in the Santa Barbara community, as well as all Housing Authority residents. In 2008, the Housing Authority assisted 890 people - more than doubling the number of those assisted the prior year -with over 890 tax returns filed and more than $800,000 in total refunds secured. The Housing Authority offers free income tax preparation in English and Spanish, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, to low-income families, seniors, the disabled and handicapped with earnings up to $45,000 depending on their tax status. The program also helps individuals claim any tax credits they are entitled to for the 2008 tax year. The Housing Authority wants those who qualify to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and college tuition credits. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal income tax credit for low-income workers who are eligible for and claim the credit. The credit reduces the amount of tax an individual owes, and may be returned in the form of a refund. The Child Tax Credit is a credit intended to reduce tax. New this year is the Recovery Rebate Credit or RRC. The RRC is generally the amount of net income tax paid before application of any child tax credit. This year, there are 19 trained volunteer tax preparers from local non-profits and businesses including: the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, the Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV), Santa Barbara City College, Housing Authority residents, private citizens and the Internal Revenue Service. As in years past, the Housing Authority’s Income Tax Preparation Centers are a collaborative effort. The Housing Authority provides the supervision, staff, locations, internet access, materials and supplies for the tax centers and the Internal Revenue Service provides the training, software and technical support. HOUSING AUTHORITY’S 2009 TAX TIPS: • WHO CAN USE FREE VITA SERVICES: “VITA” is a free income tax preparation program for our community, for earners with incomes up to about $45,000 annually per family. The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s two VITA centers are open through April 15, per the days and hours below. The VITA centers offer free tax preparation for people who earn $45,000 or less. WHAT YOU NEED TO HAVE YOUR TAXES FILED: The documents necessary to file your income taxes include employment wages, self-employment earnings, and any unemployment and interest income: documents you should bring include a copy of last year’s tax return (2008) forms, including W-2s, 1099s, 1098s. If you have children under 16 years old, include information of your child care provider. Also, if you are self-employed, bring your accounting ledger. ADDITIONAL TAX CREDITS: You may be eligible for any of a number of tax credits if you are aware of the criteria and can provide the appropriate information. Some of these tax credit include: o o The “Child Care Tax Credit” - if you have a child under 16 years of age, you may qualify. The “Earned Income Tax Credit” (EITC): EITC is a credit for taxpayers who work and have an income under certain thresholds. A tax credit usually means more money in the pocket of the tax payer. The

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taxpayer must have a valid social security number, the EITC is not available for people with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) only. • STIMULUS PAYMENT: If you are not required to file tax returns, it is still possible to take advantage of the Stimulus payment program. If for some reason, you did not file your 2007 taxes, it is still possible to receive the Stimulus payment by filing a 2008 return. If you have access to the internet and need more information go to www.irs.gov/español or call 1-800-829-1040.

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RAPID REFUNDS WARNING: Be wary of services that advertise “Rapid Refunds”. These are actually bank loans with high interest rates and can have very expensive consequences, with expenses exceeding $200 dollars. These types of transactions can have very expensive consequences. At the VITA centers, we prepare your tax return by computer and it is electronically filed. You can also request that your refund(s) be electronically deposited into your bank account(s). If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to pay hundreds of dollars for a service that you can get for free! CHOOSING A PAID TAX PREPARER: If you choose to use a paid tax preparer, it is important that you find a qualified tax professional. It is important that you look for a qualified and professional person, because in the end, you are ultimately responsible for reporting your income to the federal and state governments. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS AND ITIN: If you do not have a valid social security number, the VITA centers can help you apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (or ITIN) from the IRS. (The IRS is not concerned about taxpayers’ legal status in the country, but that you do report your income and files taxes.) IRS LINK AND MORE INFO: The IRS websites: www.irs.gov and www.irs.gov/espanol offer tax information for individuals and small businesses. For individuals, the webpage contains forms, publications and brochures that provide detailed tax information. Their interactive system can help you determine your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and can even calculate your tax rate, and find out the status of your refund. You can also call the IRS customer service number at 1-800-829-1040. VITA centers can help prepare: o Forms-1040 EZ, 1040 A with schedules 1 and 2 o 1040 with schedule B, EIC & R o 1040-V o 1040-SE o Form 2441 (Child and Dependants Care Credit) o Form 8863 (Education Credits) o Form 8812 (Additional Child Tax Credit)

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Housing Authority’s Tax Preparation Center locations/hours: • Family Opportunity Center, 526 West Montecito Street o Family Opportunity Center is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM and Saturdays from 9:00 AM - 3:00 P, between February 2nd and April 15th (except for holidays). • Paseo Voluntario Learning Center, 309 South Voluntario Street o Paseo Voluntario Learning Center is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM and Saturdays from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM (between February 2, 2009 and April 15, 2009, except for holidays). • First come, first served. Call in advance for schedule changes: 730-1188 (Montecito St) or 966-6581 (Voluntario St.) during the hours above. Appointments are available • A list of all VITA tax centers in Santa Barbara County is available at www.hacsb.org/tax The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara is a local public agency created for the purpose of providing safe, decent, and quality affordable housing and supportive services to eligible persons with limited incomes, through a variety of federal, state, local and private resources. Please visit the website at www.hacsb.org. -###-