AZ Daily Sun: Working Poor Tax Credits Loom Large

| December 6, 2015

Arizona Daily Sun

If it’s December in Arizona, it’s time to think about income tax credits.

The reason? They are the reward for charitable giving, which is vital in a state that spends so little publicly on education and social services.

Starting, this year, though, there is less pressure on schools to rake in as many extracurricular donations as possible before Dec. 31. That’s because the deadline for taking a tax credit has been changed from the calendar year to Tax Day – April 15.

Not so, however, for the working poor tax credit – donations that qualify for a tax credit must be made by Dec. 31. A credit, unlike a deduction, is applied in full to taxes owed on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It can be taken each year based on donations before Dec. 31, up to $200 for an individual and $400 for a couple, just like the public school tax credit.

The result has been almost a free-for-all in the state nonprofit sector as the charities that qualify scramble to capture that maximum tax-credit-eligible donation before it is used up on another charity. Recently, two dozen working-poor nonprofits in Flagstaff have come together to run a coordinated campaign. Check them out at www.flagstafftaxcredit.org and see the list of qualifying organizations elsewhere attached to this editorial at www.azdailysun.com.

And what kinds of charities qualify for the tax credit? Under state law, a charity must spend at least half of its budget on services to Arizonans who either receive temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) benefits or have a household income less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level. That is $16,300 for an individual, $22,100 for two, $27,700 for three and $33,500 for four.

By comparison, it has been calculated that, because of high housing costs in Flagstaff, a family of four here needs an annual income of $52,708 to be self-sufficient.

Flagstaff has been blessed with a charitable infrastructure that is both deep and wide, thanks to many But no charity can survive without some hard cash, if only to pay the light and heat bills. Now that the state is offering us a tax cut for a worthy cause, we’d be foolish not to keep those tax dollars as close to home as possible. We urge all taxpayers to take advantage of the working poor tax credits by the end of this month, and to the maximum amount possible.

For the full article, Contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations, and Tax-credit eligible working poor nonprofits in Flagstaff, click here.

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