WGN-TV Show Notes — February 6, 2003

For the fourth year in a row, the city of Chicago’s Tax Assistance Center has set up 25 locations citywide, plus 18 suburban locations to help Chicagoans prepare their taxes and file for the earned income tax credit.

Last year, the city helped a total of 17,000 families file their returns and get refunds of nearly $18 million. The average refund is $1,700.

“The top amount is $4,140,” says Myer Blank.

Which is the biggest single check most Chicagoans will ever cash.

“This is money where you can start the rest of your life. Put a deposit on a home, pay for an education, put down a deposit on a car. This is real money where you can get wonderful things for it,” Blank says.

The best part about using the city to file your taxes electronically, for free, is that you can get your refund in days without paying hefty fees to commercial tax preparers for a rapid tax refund. Yes, for free.

“The person is probably going to pay a fee to get the rapid tax refund, pay a fee for electronic filing and they’re going to pay a fee to the commercial tax preparer,” says Judy Rice, city treasurer.

So if you’re eligible for this average earned income tax credit refund of $1,700 and you pay $300 in fees, you’ve just paid a whole lot of money for something you can get for free.

“This is something new for me. Usually, I’ll go out and spend $30-40 for my taxes to be done and my friend through a flier told me to come over here and I got it for free and I got something back. That’s good,” says Jose Pagan.

To find the closest tax filing center to you, call the city’s non-emergency number 311 and ask for information about the earned income tax credit. They’ll point you in the right direction.

This year, the city invited city banks to come into the tax filing centers to help Chicagoans sign up for basic checking accounts. So their refunds could be electronically deposited. Surprisingly, 36 percent of Chicagoans have no relationship with a bank or financial institution and Mayor Daley believes without using a bank, you can’t begin to grow your family’s wealth.

For more information go to www.ci.chi.il.us

Feb. 6, 2003.