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United Way, IRS urge eligible CNYers to file for Earned Income Tax Credit

A woman in a purple patterned shirt and blazer stands behind a lectern with books in the background.
Scott Willis
United Way of CNY President Nancy Eaton explains the benefits of the EITC at Beauchamp Library in Syracuse Jan. 26, 2024. Beauchamp, White, and the Central branches will be among the locations offering free tax preparation services.

The time of year is approaching for Syracuse-area residents to begin preparing their tax returns.  A coalition of organizations wants to make sure filers take advantage of a key tax credit that has lifted families above the poverty line.

The Cash Coalition, along with the United Way, Peace Incorporated, and the IRS marked Earned Income Tax credit, or EITC Awareness Day Friday by launching free tax preparation services at several locations. United Way CNY President Nancy Eaton says many residents don’t claim the credit.
“We estimate 20% of households in our community that would qualify for this program that could benefit from this savings do not currently take advantage of the opportunity, and that's what today is all about," Eaton said. "We want to make sure that working families in this Community know that we have partners. We have volunteers who are trained and certified to do these tax returns.”
Eaton says all you have to do is dial 211 to schedule an appointment. Last year, the Cash Coalition prepared nearly 3,000 tax returns, and more than 600 families $1.2 million through the EITC. Dan Mayer with the IRS says the money can be put toward a rent or mortgage payment, a down payment on a vehicle, or a major car repair.

"We want to make sure that folks are aware of those tax credits, that they're eligible for," Mayer said. "It's a life altering situation, especially for taxpayers who maybe haven't filed over a couple of years. And they come into a site like this at the Beauchamp Library and they find out hey, that I'm eligible for thousands of dollars in additional credits.” 

Mayer says in New York State, about 1.4 million eligible taxpayers received $3.4 billion from the EITC, and the average payment was around $2,400. More information on the free tax preparation services, including locations and how to volunteer can be found here.

Editor's note: The United Way of Central New York is a financial supporter of WAER.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at