The IRS estimates that Treasure Valley residents leave $11 million in unclaimed earned income tax credits on the table every year.
Several groups, including the IRS, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, Bank of America, United Way of Treasure Valley and the office of Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane have come together to try to change that.
A local free tax help program is available for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. The program will help participants fill out their state and federal returns to maximize benefits.
Those benefits include the earned income tax credit. Studies have shown that this credit helps lift more children out of poverty than any other program.
Other credits that may be available to Idaho taxpayers include the child tax credit and credit for the elderly or disabled.
To find out if you qualify for help or get more information, call 2-1-1.
Another option for filing free federal and state tax returns: the My Free Taxes website, a service for taxpayers who make $57,000 or less per year. Find a link through this column at idahostatesman.com.
PLAN AHEAD FOR PAINT THE TOWN
Neighborhood Housing Services is hosting the 31st annual Paint The Town event to help spruce up the digs of Treasure Valley seniors and residents with disabilities.
The painting will take place June 8, but applications from people who would like volunteers to paint their houses are due April 5. Teams of volunteers willing to do the work need to submit their applications by April 12.
To qualify for help, residents must be at least 65 years old or disabled, own and live in a home that needs paint, and be unable to afford the costs associated with painting.
To volunteer, teams need a minimum of 10 people and must be willing to paint from start to finish. NHS will provide the paint and supplies.
Get your application forms online. Find a link through this column at idahostatesman.com, or call 258-6222.
ROTARY CLUB RAISING MONEY FOR JULIA DAVIS GRAND PLAZA
Rotary Club of Boise has set a lofty goal: raising $150,000 to build a central plaza at Julia Davis Park that will bear Rotarys name as part of a larger park restoration project.
The club is on a roll so far. A recent Casino Night event raised nearly $2,700 toward the goal.
Community members who are interested in joining Rotary and helping out with the Julia Davis and other projects, should contact Wendy Shoemaker at Shoemaker.firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-2816.
ST. VINCENT STARTS NEW POST-PRISON MINISTRY
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Southwest Idaho is working to reduce the recidivism of prisoners released from jail and parolees returning to society.
These men and women are often without the resources and support networks that would help them stay on a good path.
A new conference, the word for a hands-on, working unit of the society, is trying to remedy that by providing services, including clothing, rental assistance, bus passes, bikes, and more.
The program is just getting off the ground. To find out more about services, contact the St. Vincent de Paul Helpline at 331-2208.
Those with questions or an interest in helping out with the project should contact Conference President Tony Arrubarrena at 331-8409.
Partners including the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Garden City and Ten Mile Christian Church in Meridian, along with the Catholic Diocese of Idaho, are also supporting the effort.
MEET THE IDAHO YOUTH OF THE YEAR
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Idaho named Fernando Chaidez, 16, of the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa, the 2013 Idaho State Youth of the Year.
The award is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive and recognizes the recipients contributions to family, school, community and the Boys & Girls Club while overcoming significant personal challenges and obstacles.
Chaidez will receive a $2,500 college scholarship from the Micron Foundation. He will represent Idaho in the Pacific Region finals this summer.
Mitch Minnette, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa, commended Chaidez.
Fernando is a role model to the younger children, and an inspiration to the older Club members and staff.
Chaidez has been candid about his own childhood, which was marred by violence.
After feeling disregarded for most of my childhood, it was good to find understanding, encouraging individuals who cared for me at the Club.
Chiadez is a sophomore with a 3.2 GPA at Idaho Arts Charter School. He wants to be the first in his family to graduate from college and hopes to become a youth counselor one day.
Anna Webb: 377-6431