Tax Return Help Hurt By DHS Cuts - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/13/04

Tax Return Help Hurt By DHS Cuts

Nearly 240 people across Mississippi will soon be looking for work and a whole lot more will be searching somewhere else for the services that are, right now, provided by the Department of Human Services. That's because state leaders are closing 30 DHS resource centers by the end of the month to make up for a 20 million dollar deficit.

Moss Point resident Timothy Lawson just got a pretty good deal. He had his taxes done for free by a special program associated with the Department of Human Services.

"I estimate it being about 150 dollars I saved by having my taxes filed here." Lawson said.

But when tax time comes around again next year, Lawson and 300 other families who depend on the program will have to go somewhere else to get their taxes done.

"The Families First Resource Center is suppose to close March the 30th of this year," Angela Sellers, a volunteer for the Tax Assistance Program said. "So we really have about two or three weeks."

Angela Sellers knows how important free tax preparation can be for lower income families.

"In Jackson County alone, there were over 22,000 people who did not receive refunds for the earned income tax credit," Sellers said.

Sellers said that's because the earned income tax credit is the most common tax return overlooked by low income families. But Lawson and others said they're worried that kind of financial oversight will continue since this facility will not be available next year.

"Any money that you can keep and apply to other expenses of the household is a great thing, and 150 dollars goes a long way in any household," Lawson said.

Last year, the I-R-S reported tens of millions of unclaimed dollars in earned income tax credits in Mississippi. $7,00,000 went unclaimed in Harrison County, $4,000,000 in Jackson County... and $1,00,000 in Hancock County.

By: Claire Nelson

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