Seniors

ACAP tax prep makes seniors eligible for relief funds

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Just over 200 Maine tax returns for County senior citizens and people with disabilities were completed in one day by Aroostook County Action Program staff at recent Tax Palooza events in Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield.

The service makes those County residents eligible to receive the $850 Maine relief payments enacted this spring.

The 200-plus returns completed during the Tax Palooza event represent one-tenth of all the returns ACAP team members across Aroostook County have completed (or will complete) as part of the special initiative. Altogether, in relief checks alone, agency staff will have helped bring more than $1.7 million into the hands of vulnerable Aroostook seniors and people with disabilities. 

Additionally, many of those for whom the agency is preparing state tax returns are getting back money in the form of separate tax refunds — an average of $130 for single filers and $180 for those filing jointly (married), although many returns are higher. ACAP will calculate those numbers after completing all returns, but projected estimates are that many more hundreds of thousands of dollars will be realized that would never have otherwise have been accessed by vulnerable members of the community. 

It’s not only the Pandemic Relief Benefit and Tax Return that ACAP staff are connecting customers to, but rather a whole host of other services to meet key needs that might otherwise go unmet. 

At the recent tax events alone, 23 first-time applications were completed for the Home Energy Assistance Program, and an additional 12 appointments were made for the coming week. Also, 22 applications were completed for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, staff assisted five individuals with housing concerns and one person was referred to ACAP’s dental hygienist to assist with oral health concerns. 

“The best part for all of us who have been assisting with these tax preparation events and appointments is the relief and gratitude expressed by the senior citizens who we are connecting with not only this relief payment and a tax return, but with other programs that will help them get through what we all fear will be a very difficult Aroostook County winter,” said ACAP Executive Director/CEO Jason Parent. 

“The individuals we are assisting with their state of Maine income tax return are mostly retired, lifelong County residents who have worked all of their lives and are struggling to get by right now on limited Social Security income that has not kept pace with the record inflation and high costs for fuel and electricity we are currently facing.” 

To be eligible for the relief payment, individuals must file a 2021 Maine individual income tax return by Oct. 31 as a full-time Maine resident, so there is still time for County seniors to connect with ACAP for help with filing their return and accessing the $850 relief payment. 

Those eligible must not be claimed as a dependent, and must have a federal adjusted gross income of less than: 

$100,000 if filing single or if married and filing separately; 

$150,000 if filing as head of household; 

$200,000 for couples filing jointly. 

For more information on the service or to get on the list to schedule an appointment, call ACAP at 207-764-3721. 

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