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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Maryland Comptroller Promotes Tax Assistance Programs

George Wenschhof
Josh Pederson, Ryan Trout and Peter Franchot
On a cold January day, Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot (D) was visiting Frederick, Maryland to promote tax assistance programs.
Yesterday, at the Bernard Brown Community Center, he thanked representatives from many local community organizations including Josh Pederson CEO of the United Way of Frederick County, Ryan Trout with the Housing Authority of The City of Frederick, and the Frederick County Financial Literacy Coalition for the work they do in providing financial services and education to residents of Frederick County.
At this tax time kickoff event, he spoke about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and The Earned Income Tax Credit.  These are programs that help low to moderate income families prepare their tax returns and make sure eligible families receive tax credits up to $5,891.
Franchot pointed out that in Frederick County alone, statistics showed “there were more than 10,000 county residents living below the poverty line and another 16,000 considered to be working poor”.
He spoke enthusiastically about how these programs help eligible families who are in need of some extra money, get the tax credits they deserve.
Franchot added “It’s not just the right thing to do morally – it’s the right thing to do economically, because it ultimately puts money back into our local economy”.
Last year, VITA sites in Frederick County helped prepare 300 returns securing more than $400,000 and also helped eligible residents receive Earned Income Tax Credits totaling $100,000.
Across the state of Maryland in 2013, over 18,000 residents were served who received over $30.5 Million in federal and state refunds.  In addition, eligible families received Earned Income Tax Credits of $13.6 Million.  Another $2.7 Million was saved in tax preparation fees.
Franchot said he also supports efforts to promote financial literacy to young people in Maryland and has advocated for mandatory personal finance education for every high school student in Maryland.
Peter Franchot and Jim Racheff
Jim Racheff, chair of The United Way of Frederick County told me "It was wonderful for the Comptroller to take time from his busy schedule to stand with United Way, the Housing Authority and all our partners to bring awareness to the VITA volunteer tax preparation assistance and earned income tax credit programs.”
Racheff added “Helping the more than 26,000 of our neighbors that find themselves struggling in this economy start on a path to financial stability is one of the most pressing issues in Frederick County. The Comptroller has been a strong advocate for financial literacy and we appreciate his continued support and leadership in this area."
Following his remarks, Comptroller Franchot told me “he's focused on making sure government works and that it's working for the people we're here to serve.”
After this event, Franchot visited a local business; Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium, stopped by North Frederick Elementary School which is slated to receive $6.6 Million for construction in FY’15 and checked in at his local office.
Peter Franchot, who has repeatedly told me “he loves his job” has filed for reelection and at this point has no opposition in the Democratic Party. 
William Campbell is the only Republican who has filed for Comptroller. 
The deadline for candidates to file in the 2014 election is February 25.
Stay tuned.

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