Friday, January 30th is Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day. Virginia government, wonderful community groups and businesses across the Commonwealth have joined with the IRS in promoting the initiative.
EITC (sometimes called EIC) is a program that helps low income workers keep more of their income through credits resulting in a larger income tax refund. There are specific, detailed rules, and workers must have earned income and filed a tax return to qualify for the credit. All of this is more complicated than it sounds.
That’s where the EITC Awareness Day people come in with much needed help. The Virginia Department of Social Services is partnering with Virginia Community Action Partnership (VACAP) to support community groups and local coalitions through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to offer free tax help by IRS-certified volunteers to low income individuals and families. Many of these locations operate several days a week. Walk-ins are encouraged.
Since EITC is a refundable tax credit, applicants may get back more money than they actually paid in income tax. VACAP Deputy Director Carolyn Spohrer cites a “feeling of financial empowerment” along with a 100% refund to participants (no payment to a commercial tax preparer) and direct deposit capability for a faster refund as real, tangible benefits.
“The low-moderate income community is often under employed and information poor; therefore, they are vulnerable to the get your refund now scam,” says Willard Pretlow of the Hampton Roads STOP organization. “They require additional time to address special case scenarios and the proper claiming of dependents for maximum credit. Each case is different and the standard on-screen questionnaire (used by commercial tax preparers) does not cover all situations. The VITA Program is unique in that it is sensitive to the needs of the community.”
Russell “Rusty” Boleman III, Chairman of Boleman Law Firm, P.C. and his wife, Gayle have enjoyed almost fifty years of marriage and working together. Their early days were spent in Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin and finally Texas, where Rusty worked as a technical recruiter in the oil industry. Then, suddenly, the American oil industry collapsed with low oil prices. Rusty and Gayle, along with thousands of American oil workers, experienced loss of jobs and income.
As Boleman Law clients know all too well, during a financial crisis, bad things can happen to anyone. The poor treatment Rusty and Gayle received as they sought solutions to financial problems led them to believe that there was a need for a change in bankruptcy law practice. At age 40, those experiences led Rusty to law school in Richmond -much later in life than most of his law school colleagues. He worked all through law school with Gayle at his side. After graduation, they founded Boleman Law Firm in 1991 with the goal of treating everyone who came to them seeking help with respect and dignity, while providing excellence in customer service and legal advice.
Rusty’s strong commitment to legal knowledge, ethics and community service has made him one of Virginia’s leading lawyers, Rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell and a Virginia Lawyers Weekly 2017 Virginia Leader in the Law. Almost 30 years later, the firm that bears his name has helped almost 110,000 Virginians regain their financial health. The 22 lawyers and 45 staff members carry on the traditions of excellence and compassion as they provide assistance to over 10,000 folks each year.
Rusty and Gayle are proud parents of one daughter and grandparents of two grandchildren. They and their two cats are now enjoying semi-retirement and spending time with their family. But, no matter where they are, they are never far from their other family, the lawyers and staff who strive every day to make Boleman Law Firm a safe and happy place for both clients and employees.