Celebrating 10 Years of VITA

Revere and Chelsea, MA -- In the world of upside-down tax programs, for every dollar of homeownership tax benefits a low-income family gets, a multi-millionaire will get $15,450 (The Topic Policy Center). But there is one tax program that actually has a positive impact on the working families that need the assistance: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).

And The Neighborhood Developers (TND) is having its 10th anniversary of providing VITA services to Chelsea and Revere.  On average, the tax-credit refund amount for TND's VITA clients is 9% of their annual income. So coming to TND for just one service gets them almost a 10th of their income for the whole year. This means they really rely on this service being available to them.

Across the nation, each year VITA volunteers prepare millions of tax returns at thousands of tax sites nationwide. “In 2014, the EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] lifted 6.7 million people out of poverty. The same year, the Child Tax Credit protected approximately 3.1 million people from poverty, including about 1.6 million children.” (Results.org) Here is a moment to multiply 6.7 million and 3.1 million by 10 years.

Organizations like The Neighborhood Developers open their doors to residents and guide them through the tax system to life-changing tax credits, including: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); Child Tax Credit (CTC); and The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).

The late Senator Edward Kennedy said, “If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, in the richest nation in the world, you should not have to live in poverty.” For millions of families, VITA made that a reality.

The Neighborhood Developers and the other VITA organizations around the country provide this service with the help of volunteers. Volunteers are the core of VITA. Many come with no experience working with taxes, and they are trained by organizations like The Neighborhood Developers on how to provide this direct service, to participate in the national movement that collectively pulls millions of people out of poverty.

CET

Come and Make a Difference! Be Part of Making Chelsea Cleaner and Safer!  Please join us, the Community Enhancement Team (CET), every 3rd Wednesday of the month. The CET is a team of resident leaders committed to working together to solve community problems and improve the quality of life, the cleanliness and safety in Chelsea. If you are interested in getting involved and making a difference in Chelsea, please join us!

When:

Wed, March 15, 2017, 6pm -8pm

Where:

Highland Terrace community room (59/61gerrish ave)

Contact:

Name *
Name

Weekly Links

Links from the web that we found relevant. They don't always represent our point of view, but they're interesting:

Chelsea Record: Unconstitutional: City Files Federal Suit Against Trump Administration’s Executive Order to Potentially Defined Sanctuary Cities
The City of Chelsea, in conjunction with the City of Lawrence, filed an eight-count federal lawsuit in Boston Federal Court on Wednesday morning, Feb. 8, calling for the court to declare unconstitutional the Executive Order penned by President Donald Trump regarding stripping federal grant funding from Sanctuary Cities like Chelsea.

Revere Journal: News Briefs: TND CELEBRATES 10th ANNIVERSARY
The Neighborhood Developers (TND) is celebrating its 10th anniversary of providing VITA services to Chelsea and Revere.

Revere Journal: Arrigo Targets Future Of Wonderland in State of City Address:Calls for More Input in City Processes by Residents; Technology and Professionlism Highlighted
Mayor Brian Arrigo offered hope and a clear direction for the City Monday night during his State of the City address in the Council Chambers of City Hall.

Boston Globe: Group pushing on an array of issues, not just affordable housing
THE ARTICLE “Affordable housing groups want in on Preservation Act” (Metro, Feb. 12) mischaracterizes the implementation of the Community Preservation Act in two significant respects. First, it describes the Yes for a Better Boston committee as a coalition of affordable housing advocates.

The Atlantic: This Month in Urbanism: February 2017
A sampling of city-focused events around the world. This month: urban agriculture in Atlanta, the complexity of street networks, and how to love a city in the snow.

Yahoo: NeighborWorks Training Institute in Seattle will attract 1,600+ community-development professionals, nearly $3 million in economic impact
A nearly $3 million boost is coming to the Seattle economy when more than 1,600 community-development professionals from around the country convene in the city for the NeighborWorks Training Institute.

Housing Finance: NeighborWorks’ Nonprofits Invest Nearly $2.4 Billion in Rental Housing
NeighborWorks America’s network of local nonprofit organization invested more than $2.38 billion into the development and preservation of affordable rental housing during the last fiscal year.

Boston Globe: Affordable housing advocates crave bigger slice of CPA revenue
After Bostonians overwhelmingly voted for the Community Preservation Act, a small property tax increase aimed at improving neighborhoods, a new battle is taking shape — over the committee that will decide how that nearly $20 million in new revenue will be spent.

Boston Globe: Chelsea, Lawrence challenge Trump on sanctuary cities
The cities of Lawrence and Chelsea filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston Wednesday challenging President Trump’s executive order that would strip funding for so-called sanctuary cities, calling the proposal an unconstitutional penalty for local governments that have sought to build trust with their immigrant communities.

City Lab: Trump Can Now Re-Create the Housing Crisis That Got Him Elected
By dialing back Dodd-Frank regulations, President Trump exposes the nation to another financial catastrophe—a sequel to the housing crisis that helped him win the election.

 

4 Ways to Save Your Tax Refund

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance ProgramTND has a financial services advocate volunteer position that is staffed by various banks when we're open for taxes. They can help people open bank accounts. Before you
Savings Account

The classic -- maybe the most basic and common way to set money aside for savings. This is a bank account that you can get at almost any bank. The difference between it your checking account and a savings account is that you earn interest.

myRA

Retirement savings account for low income folks

myRA is a simple, safe, affordable way to start saving for retirement. Open a myRA, build up savings, then move on to other investments. myRA® is designed to make saving for retirement easy for people who need it most – workers who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at their job or lack other options to save.

 

529 college savings

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Savings Bonds

U.S. Savings bonds are debt securities issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help pay for the U.S. government’s borrowing needs. U.S. savings bonds are considered one of the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

We hope at a minimum people are learning that these types of accounts exist  even if they aren't ready to open one that day. Within the tax software they can purchase savings bonds with their refunds and hopefully put some of that refund into a savings account.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

Just because you know that there are options, doesn’t mean you can navigate the US tax system. That’s where VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) comes in. If you have low- or moderate income and you live in the Boston Metro area, call the Neighborhood Developers:

6 TAX CREDITS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR TAX RETURN

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The most notable, noteworthy, and noted

This is the biggest tax credit for working families — the third-largest social welfare program in the United States. EITC pulls almost 10 million working people who have low to moderate income out of poverty.

“If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, in the richest nation in the world, you should not have to live in poverty.” — late Senator Edward Kennedy

For millions of families, EITC makes that possible. More money in your pocket, EITC reduces your taxes and may also give you a refund. If you have children and make less than $50,000, you might qualify — probably qualify.

 

Child Tax Credit

For the kids

Another important tax credit, the Child Tax Credit can be worth as much as $1,000 per qualifying child depending upon your income.

 

Credit for child and dependent care expenses

For child care

If you paid someone to care for your child, spouse, or dependent last year, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.

 

Retirement Savings Contributions Credit

For your future

Are you saving for your retirement? Why not? You could missing out on free money in the form of tax credits. The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit may be able to reduce your taxes for making eligible contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan.

 

American Opportunity credit or lifetime learning credit

(these are education credits and people can only claim one)

The American opportunity tax credit (AOTC)

Considering university? But you wonder how we can afford to take classes with rents rising and expenses growing. AOTC might lighten that load. It is a credit for expenses paid for an eligible student for the first four years of higher education. It has a maximum annual credit of $2,500 per eligible student.

lifetime learning credit

Considering university again? For any given tax year, you might be able claim a lifetime learning credit for your education expenses. Unlike AOTC, you can claim this credit for an unlimited number of years.

 

Circuit Breaker Credit

(this is MA only for people 65 or older — get this instead of EITC based on housing costs)

If you are older than 65 and own or rent residential property located in Massachusetts, you’re allowed a credit to help cover your taxes or the amount of your rent that would go to taxes. The amount has limitation based on your income. But the category of people that own or rent includes most people, so check this one out.

VITA: FREE TAX PREP

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Just because you know that there are options, doesn’t mean you can navigate the US tax system. That’s where VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) comes in. If you have low- or moderate income and you live in the Boston Metro area, call the Neighborhood Developers:

Make and Appointment:
617.884.8406 x 126

Make an appointment for free tax prep from our skilled tax assistants. If you don’t live in the metro area, search for VITA in your area. It’s a national program!

Weekly Links

Links from the web that we found relevant. They don't always represent our point of view, but they're interesting:

Revere Journal: Councillors Have Had Enough Of Multi-Unit Developments
Monday night the Revere City Council has sent a message to MassHousing and to developers that the city does not need more affordable housing.

Chelsea Record: Councillors Reject Residency Ordinance Again
Councillor Giovanni Recupero will likely never give up in trying to bring a residency ordinance to the City for public safety officials, and on Monday night he gave it another try.

Chelsea Record: Chelsea Defunded: President Donald Trump Issues Executive Order to Strip Federal Funds from Sanctuary Cities
President Donald Trump issued a wide-ranging executive order on Wednesday afternoon that targeted immigration enforcement in the interior of the country, and among many initiatives described was a condemnation of sanctuary cities and a directive to strip them of federal funds, except those required by law.

CITYLAB: Sanctuary Cities Are Safer and More Productive
New research contradicts President Trump’s claim that these areas do "immeasurable harm" to their residents.

Forbes: States Challenge Cities, Nonprofit Low-Income Housing Industrial Complex
By now it’s conventional wisdom that cities, especially cities dominated by left-leaning politics, have high housing prices. Often cited among these expensive cities are San Francisco and Seattle with their growing tech sectors, legendary locations with access to many amenities, and relative opportunity.

CFED: Why the Earned Income Tax Credit is Essential to the Opportunity Economy
Since 1975, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has been among the most powerful anti-poverty tools in our country.

BisNow: MASS + MAIN GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM CAMBRIDGE PLANNING BOARD
The City of Cambridge Planning Board approved Mass + Main, a development proposal in Central Square by Twining Properties that will add 285 units of mixed-income housing. The development will consist of two buildings designed by CBT Architects, one fronting Mass Avenue and the other on Columbia Street.

RealestateRama: MassHousing Awards $385,000 for Affordable Sober Housing and Support Services for Those in Recovery or Formerly Homeless
MassHousing has awarded $385,000 to help create or renovate affordable sober housing in six communities, assist efforts to create sober housing in Franklin County, and provide recovery training to direct care and housing organizations in Greater Boston.

The Neighborhood Builders Grant Press Release from Bank of America

Press Release from Bank of America

Bank of America and Loving Spoonfuls and The Neighborhood Developers Partner in Greater Boston

Neighborhood Builders® helps nonprofits to focus on their impact through leadership development and $200,000 in flexible funding

BOSTON- Bank of America has named Lovin’ Spoonfuls and The Neighborhood Developers as 2015 Neighborhood Builders. The nonprofits are being recognized for their work in Greater Boston. Neighborhood Builders combines leadership development resources with $200,000 of flexible funding intended to help increase their capacity and impact in the Greater Boston community. “We recognize that nonprofits such as Lovin’ Spoonfulls and The Neighborhood Developers are on the frontlines as they tackle tough community issues that impact Greater Boston,” said Miceal Chamberlain, Massachusetts President, Bank of America. “These organizations have each taken transformative and successful approaches to providing vital services that help individuals and families in our area. Through Neighborhood Builders, we hope to help these organizations do even more for those they serve.”

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) began as a developer of affordable housing in Chelsea, Mass., and in 2006 broadened their services to take a more integrated approach to neighborhood revitalization. TND will use the Neighborhood Builders grant to launch a new inhouse Resident Services program that connects low-income families living in TND properties with social workers who are trained in community engagement and financial stability methods.

“Bridging the gap between abundance and need,” Lovin’ Spoonfuls rescues food that would otherwise be thrown away and distributes it to non-profits that feed the hungry in Greater Boston. Lovin’ Spoonfuls will use the Neighborhood Builders grant to increase the weekly collection and delivery of healthy, fresh food by 20 percent, resulting in a projected total of 1.3 million pounds of food handled by the organization in 2016.

“Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders grant will kick start bringing TND’s essential services into the homes of our residents in Chelsea and Revere. The foundations of any family’s success - sound financial planning, gainful employment, and a sense of community, are realized through this work,” said Ann Houston, Executive Director, The Neighborhood Developers.

“There is an abundance of food donors in the Greater Boston area, but our donations are limited by how much food we can handle in a given day,” said Ashley Stanley, Founder and Executive Director, Lovin’ Spoonfuls. “The Neighborhood Builders grant will allow us to increase our food collection and delivery so we can serve more people throughout Boston every week.”

Since 2004, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has invested $183 million in more than 900 nonprofit organizations and provided leadership resources to nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders through Neighborhood Builders and the Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program® . This long-term investment in nonprofit leadership development and capacity building is the largest philanthropic investment of its kind.

Neighborhood Builders is just one example of our broader corporate social responsibility efforts to build vibrant communities and economies. By advancing partnerships with nonprofits addressing needs related to community development, basic human services and workforce development and education, we are working to increase financial stability and help individuals and families find the pathways out of poverty.

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