Put the Earned Income Tax Credit to Work for You

Put the Earned Income Tax Credit to Work for You

You could be eligible to get more money back from the IRS-as much as $6,000.

If you earned less than $51,000 from wages, self-employment or farming last year, you may qualify for a refundable tax credit called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. But you must file a federal income tax return claiming the credit to get it. It’s even more valuable if your state also offers an EITC tax credit.

EITC can be a boost for working people, their families and communities. The Earned Income Tax Credit has continued to help improve the lives of workers for over 38 years. Yet each year many eligible workers go without claiming the credit, possibly because of changes to their financial, marital and parental statuses. Workers experiencing these changes may qualify for EITC for the first time.

IRS estimates four of five eligible workers claim and get EITC, however rural and non-traditional families — such as grandparents raising grandchildren — childless workers, and non-English speaking taxpayers are among those who most frequently overlook the credit.

Unlike other tax credits, both EITC eligibility and the amount of tax credit you are eligible for is based on several factors. These include, the amount of your income, or combined incomes if married, whether you have qualifying children and how many. Workers without children also may qualify for EITC.

The credit is complex, but worth exploring. You may qualify for EITC even if you had no federal tax withheld and would not otherwise be required to file. However, you must file and claim the credit to get it. The online EITC Assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc can help you determine your eligibility and estimate the amount of your credit you are entitled to claim.

The IRS offers several free options to claim EITC, such as FreeFile and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. FreeFile allows you to prepare and e-file your own tax return. Free help preparing EITC tax returns is also available at many volunteer income tax assistance sites. Locate a volunteer site near you on IRS.GOV and selecting the VITA Locator tool or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887.

Take the credit you’ve earned. Learn more about EITC. Visit www.irs.gov/eitc, or get details in your tax software package.

 

Sportsman Against Hunger Results in 9,363 pounds of Meat Being Donated!

Since 2004, North Dakota Community Action Partnership has administered the Sportsman Against Hunger (SAH) program throughout the State of North Dakota. Hunters donate legally-obtained deer for donation to food pantries across the state. In 2012, a geese donation program was added, with the assistance of ND Game and Fish and has been very successful. NDCAP partners with processors across the state for meat processing and packaging.

 

2013 Deer Results

Deer were accepted throughout bow and rifle season. Sportsman Against Hunger program received a total of 48 deer this year, for approximately 2,100 pounds of meat donated to food pantries across the state. Unfortunately, this is the lowest number of donations in the history of the program. But this was anticipated due to the declining deer population in North Dakota. The program will continue to accept deer donations in 2014.

  • Interested in finding more information about the ND deer population and what you can do to help? The State Game and Fish Department has scheduled eight public meetings in February to discuss deer management in North Dakota. Department officials will present an overview of the current deer population and prospects for the future, and look for input on possible options for changes in the way deer licenses are allocated. Log onto www.gf.nd.gov for more information and meeting dates and times.

 

Elk Reduction Program Partnership with

Theodore Roosevelt State Park

The Sportsman Against Hunger program had the honor of partnering with the Theodore Roosevelt National Park for elk reduction again this year. Through this partnership the program received 39 elk. The SAH program secured funding through the ND Department of Commerce to have the elk processed into burger. Over 5000 pounds of meat was processed. After processing the meat was distributed to food pantries and charitable feed outlets across the state of ND. This partnership has been in effect since 2011, with a total of  278 elk donated.

 2013 Goose Results

In 2012, SAH started a small pilot program to accept goose, this was well received and 591 geese were donated and distributed. In 2013, this took off and was very popular. Canada geese were accepted in the early fall season, and Snow geese were accepted throughout the winter regular season. An AP news article about the program was published nationwide, and the program was featured on NPR radio, NRA News on the Sportsman Channel, Valley News Live, Bakken Talkin radio show, and more. The donations of geese helped minimize the loss of meat to food pantries because of decreasing deer donations. A total of 1,863 pounds of goose meat were donated to the program in 2013. Goose meat is new to food pantries in this area, but has been accepted with success. Sarah at Community VI Food Pantry reported that 70% of people receiving food baskets took the goose breasts, and were provided with recipes to assist with preparation.

 

Total Donations

The Sportsman Against Hunger program facilitated a grand total of 9,363 pounds of donated game meat being donated to food pantries across the state of North Dakota.

 

Thank You!

Thank you to all of our program partners, especially North Dakota Game and Fish, ND Department of Commerce, and Community Action Agencies across the State of North Dakota. Thank you to all of our partner processors, without them this program would not be possible. And finally, thank you to each and every person who has donated to this program!

Sincerely,

Sarah Hasbargen

sarahh@sendcaa.org

 

 

Josh Duhamel Talks About Our IDA Program!

Mr. Josh Duhamel was gracious enough to endorse our IDA program!

Click on the following link to learn how our program can help students pay for college: http://youtu.be/aQLO3uXKngA

The IDA program (Individual Development Accounts) is a savings program giving people an opportunity to acquire a lasting asset after saving for an extended period of time, college tuition, a first home, or small business capitalization. After six months of saving and completion of financial literacy training, the participant is eligible for a 2:1 match of their savings. Participants are able to save up to $2000, with a match of $4000, meaning if the maximum amount is saved, the participant has earned $6000 for the purchase of the desired asset. For more information, visit our website at www.capnd.org or call Sarah H. at 701-232-2452.

 

Sportsmen Against Hunger!

December is a busy time for North Dakota Community Action Partnership, particularly during hunting season. The program was started in 2004 as a way to get sources of protein into food pantries. Hunters in North Dakota donate legally obtained deer that they don’t intend to keep, and it’s processed and distributed to food pantries across the state.

Unfortunately, due to the declining ND deer populations, our donations of venison have decreased significantly. So, in 2011, a pilot project was developed to start accepting Canada and Snow geese as well as venison. It has been a very successful project , nearly quadrupling in donations in the last two years.

Curious? Try it for yourself! Here is a recipe distributed through food pantries along with the donated geese:

Canadian Goose Stew

 

  •  4 goose breasts
  • 1/3 cup salt
  •  2 tbsp baking soda
  • Water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • garlic powder
  • hot sauce
  • 48 oz. beef consommé
  • Salt
  • cubed vegetables like carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, etc.

 

Soak the breasts overnight in 1/3 cup salt, baking soda and enough water to cover.
Remove and pat dry. Cut into 2″ cubes.
In a large pot, saute the onion and celery in butter.
Add the meat, Worcester sauce, a liberal amount of garlic powder and hot sauce to taste.
Cook about 10 minutes over medium high to high heat or until brown.
Add the beef consomme and stir together. Salt to taste. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Add your veggies and simmer 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Stir occasionally.

Drive Safely to Work Week!

Whether you are driving for work, to and from work, or even to the grocery store, the time you spend in your vehicle can be the most dangerous part of your day. That is why this week is Drive Safely to Work Week, the annual safe-driving campaign sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.

This year’s theme is Gear up for safe driving: Mind – Body – Vehicle.  You likely already know that vehicle maintenance is an important part of a safe trip. This week highlights how being mindful of physical and mental wellness—along with the “health” of your vehicle—are all connected in making us safer, more attentive drivers.

Nearly 50% of crashes that were the drivers fault was caused by “mind wandering”.  Fatigue is a contributing factor in 20% of crashes, with more occurring during the day.  These suggestions are ways to avoid “presenteesim” while behind a wheel;

1)      Eat Breakfast: It improved mental performance and hand-eye coordination

2)      Drink Plenty of Water: Hydration is one of the simplest ways to keep focused

3)      Plan Ahead to Reduce Stress: Plan your travel route in advance and leave extra time for the unknown

4)      Just Breathe: Take a few breathes behind the wheel if feeling rushed.

North Dakota Poverty Video

Here is a new video produced by North Dakota Community Action Partnership:

https://www.youtube.com/?feature=ytca

Community Action Agencies were originally established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America’s War on Poverty. Today, there are seven Community Action Agencies in North Dakota who provide programs and services in all 53 counties. By combing local, state, private, and federal resources the Community Action Agencies enable low- and moderate-income people of all ages to secure the opportunities they need to obtain and maintain self-sufficiency.

Established in 1976, the North Dakota Community Action Partnership is a private, non-profit membership organization representing the seven Community Action Agencies in North Dakota.

Each of the seven Community Action Agencies across North Dakota offer a wide variety of programs to serve those in need including, but not limited to: Budgeting and Money Management, Child Care, Commodities, Emergency Assistance, Energy Assistance, Food Pantry, Head Start, Housing, Self-Sufficiency, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and Weatherization.

Eligibility for most programs is based on either federal or state income guidelines. These guidelines vary from program to program and intake forms are used to determine client eligibility. All programs serve low- and moderate-income individuals and families, senior citizens, and others in crisis situations.

Each agency offers unique programming based on the needs in their community; please inquire with the agency in your area to see what programs are offered.

Visit www.capnd.org to learn more!

 

 

Sportsmen Against Hunger Accepting Geese!

 

The North Dakota Community Action Partnership’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program is again accepting donations of goose meat taken during the early Canada goose season!

Much like the popular SAH deer donation program, hunters can bring in their goose meat to participating processors. However, hunters must remove the breast meat from the birds before processors can accept them.

Hunters can clean their geese at home prior to delivery to a processor, but breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached to the meat, must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date taken and species and number taken.
Hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor.
Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing plants, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.

NDCAP has a number of locations across the state that will handle goose donations. The entire project is part of our efforts to serve low-income families across the state. We found out last year that goose meat is very popular with our clients, so we’re hoping hunters will again be willing to share some of their birds.

Hunters interested in donating are encouraged to call processors before dropping off geese, to have a clear understanding of how goose breasts will be accepted and the processor’s hours of operation.

Visit our website for the approved list of processors across the state in addition to some delicious recipes!

http://www.capnd.org/programs/sah-program.html

Understanding Your Credit Score

North Dakota Community Action Partnership wants everyone to understand their credit score!

Do you know how your credit score is calculated?  The following chart is from FICO (http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/whatsinyourscore.aspx) and provides a nice visual of the various factors taken into consideration when determining your credit score.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

There are three national credit bureaus that keep credit reports on consumers – Experian, Transunion, and Equifax (also known as CSC). They are private companies, but all are regulated by a federal law, call the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Your Rights Under the FCRA

You have the right to see everything that is in your credit report.

Each credit bureau can each charge you three dollars to get a copy of your credit report. If you meet certain conditions you can receive a free copy of your credit report. These conditions are: you have proof of being turned down for credit in the past 60 days, or you are unemployed and looking for work, or you have filed a report of stolen identity or credit fraud.

You have the right to an accurate file.

If there is an error in your credit report, you have the right to ask the bureau to investigate and remove incorrect information. If the information is in dispute and cannot be removed, you have the right to add a “line of explanation” next to the item on your report. Most negative information must be removed after seven years (bankruptcies are listed for ten years), but positive information can be listed forever.

You have the right to privacy.

No one can receive a copy of your credit report without your signed approval.

How to Read a Credit Report

Your credit report will have four main sections:

  1. Personal Identification InformationThis includes your name, address, birth date, social security number, addresses, and jobs.
  2. Public Record Information – This details court records, such as any judgments, garnishments, bankruptcies, or tax liens.
  3. Credit Account InformationThis section will list each account that you currently have or had in the past, who the creditors are, how much is owed still, and the payment history (the most recent 24 months is the most important). Often it will rate the account on a scale from 1 (good) to 9 (bad). 1 = paid on time, 2 = 30 days late, 3 = 90 days late, 5 = deep into collections, and 9 = charged-off. Charged-off is when creditors list you as permanent bad debt, but you still owe it.
  4. Inquiries Made to Your File This section lists who has seen your file in the past 12 months. It will lower your rating if you apply too many times for credit, but you looking at your own credit will never lower your score. Promotional inquiries (where businesses pay the bureau to look at hundreds of files to see if they want to make you offers) and account reviews by creditors you already have do not lower your score either – only when you apply for credit too many times.

Stay on top of it!  Be cognizant of your score and make good decisions!

Sources: Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling and FICO.

School Bus Safety

The air is getting a little cooler, the days shorter, and backpacks are flying off store shelves.  It is back to school time in North Dakota.  A lot of students in the state must bus to school.  School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles.  Only 1% of student fatalities during school hours is caused while traveling on a school bus.   Please review the following school bus safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for an incident-free year.

What to Teach Children

  • Wait until the driver says it safe to board and only enter one at a time
  • Ask the driver for help if you drop something while getting on or off the bus
  • Keep loose items inside your backpack or book bag
  • Once on the bus, go directly to your seat, sit down, and face forward
  • Once off the bus, take five giant steps from the front of the bus and cross once the driver indicates it is safe and looking both ways.
  • Be respectful and obey the instructions of the bus driver

 

Tips for Parents

  • Walk your children to the bus stop and wait for them to get on the bus before leaving
  • Tell children to use the handrails  when getting on or off the bus and careful of anything that can get caught in the handrails or doors
  • When driving, watch out for young people that might be distracted and not thinking about safety
  • Always watch for children playing near school bus stops
  • Be Alert.  Children might dart into the street without looking for traffic.

For more general information related to transportation feel free to visit our website: http://www.capnd.org/programs/transportationcoordination.html

Jamestown Needs Service Jefferson Lines Provides

Would you like a ride to Fargo, Bismarck, Minot or points beyond without driving? What if you didn’t have access to a vehicle, how would you get to these destinations? One solution is using intercity bus service, an often misunderstood but important part of a well-rounded transportation network.

Bus carriers, such as Jefferson Lines, make it easier to travel between rural communities and also connect small towns to urban centers. Nearly one-third of all intercity bus passengers begin or end their trips in rural areas. Nationwide, bus carriers such as Jefferson Lines transport more passengers than Amtrak, and at a lower cost and with fewer subsidies.

It is time to bring Jefferson Lines back to Jamestown as it travels between Fargo and Bismarck.

There are multiple benefits in returning intercity bus service to Jamestown. The schedule would allow veterans to make daily trips to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Fargo for morning appointments and return later that afternoon instead of staying overnight or waiting all day for another bus. Newcomers to the state, attracted to jobs in the oilfields, can reside in family-friendly Jamestown and get to work in the Bakken without taking a personal vehicle.

People in Jamestown who do not have the ability to drive can get to Minot, Bismarck or Fargo to visit family or friends. Most importantly, an intercity bus service allows people to stay in Jamestown who also want the ability have easy access to “big-city” life and services.

Jefferson Lines, social services and local officials all recognize the importance of intercity bus travel to a growing Jamestown and improving quality of life. However, there is no consensus on how to bring the valuable service back to the city and region. Please contact city leaders or the business community to encourage them to work out a solution to returning Jefferson Lines to Jamestown.

For more information please contact Bryan McCoy, Transportation Coordinator at North Dakota Community Action Partnership at bmccoy@sendcaa.org or at 701-232-2452.

More information regarding transportation can also be found at http://www.capnd.org/programs/transportationcoordination.html