Butterfield: Tax help available
A congressman urged Pitt County residents to take advantage of programs that allow them to file federal and state tax returns for free.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., appeared at a free filing briefing hosted by the job training organization STRIVE on Tuesday morning.
The group, which included STRIVE participants, representatives of local community groups and citizens, learned about the various services available to help people.
“It’s a wonderful concept that we try to take to as many counties as we can,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield said he always is surprised by constituents who delay filing tax returns, even though they know they are owed a refund.
“Filing taxes is a lot simpler than you think with the help of the tax preparation software products made available through Free File,” said Dave Macklin of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the organization that sponsored Tuesday’s event.“ If you send text messages and email or surf the Internet, chances are you will have no trouble filing your taxes through the Free File program,” Macklin said.
North Carolina is one of 22 states that sponsor a State Free File program. People can visit www.dornc.com to select a free file program that suits them.
The Internal Revenue Service is working with the local AARP and the Greenville Housing Authority to offer assistance in filing tax forms. AARP assists senior citizens and the disabled; housing authority volunteers will assist residents and the general population.
Butterfield said the Free File program makes its easier for people to determine if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which returns $6,000 to qualified tax payers.
Butterfield said between 20 percent and 25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit each year.
Butterfield, who is running for re-election this year, limited his political comments during Tuesday’s event.
“Things have slowed down tremendously in Washington,” he said. “But what I want to tell you is pay attention to Washington, pay attention to what is happening.”
Following Tuesday’s program, Butterfield discussed the passage of legislation raising the debt ceiling, which allowed the federal government to continue borrowing money to pay for operations.
He said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did the right thing bringing a debt ceiling bill with no amendments to the House floor for a vote.
“We did get it passed; it was courageous of Speaker Boehner,” Butterfield said.
He hopes Boehner brings forth legislation that would restore emergency benefits that would extend unemployment payments.
“Unemployed families are feeling the pain and the least we can do is give unemployed families a lifeline beyond 26 weeks,” he said.
Butterfield said when he returns to Washington he will join the House’s 201 other Democrats in signing a discharge petition. A discharge petition forces the House leadership to move legislation out of a committee to the House floor for a vote.
Democrats want a vote on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10. The minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25.
“No American citizen that works full time should live in poverty,” Butterfield said.
Corporations that only pay the minimum wage are receiving government assistance because their employees usually have to rely on food stamps and other assistance to care for their families, he said.
“Corporations need to be willing to adequately compensate their workers for the work they do,” Butterfield said.