Many individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy need grants or other types of financial assistance to complete the purchase or renovation of their homes. Remember, new programs and modified terms are being introduced all the time. Be sure to check with your local housing counseling agency, your state housing finance agency or a trusted local lender about assistance programs that are currently available in your market. Some programs may be available only temporarily or immediately after a disaster.
Special Tax Considerations
While it is well beyond the scope of this publication to offer specific tax advice, you should be aware of general tax changes for those affected by the hurricanes. Visit www.irs.gov/ uac/Newsroom/Help-for-Victims-of-Hurricane-Sandy for information on tax relief and guidance.
Claim the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits
Many individuals and families affected by Hurricane Sandy have experienced a major decline in income, with jobs wiped out along with homes or earnings dramatically reduced. If you worked during the year but your income is below a certain amount, you can claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when you file your taxes. The EITC is a tax credit for eligible working families that provides tax refunds of up to $5,891 for tax year 2012. You may also be eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit of $1,000 for each child in your family.
Don't miss out on these important federal tax benefits that you have earned!
Applying for the EITC is part of filing your federal taxes. Free help with preparing your taxes is available at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers around the country. By visiting a VITA center, you will pay no charges for your tax preparation and you'll receive the full amount of your refund. This benefits you far more than using a company that charges to prepare your taxes and charges you fees and interest for a œrefund anticipation loan. Some of these companies charge up to 300% annual interest on refund anticipation loans! Call 800-906-9887 to find the location of the VITA center in your area, or go to www.irs.gov/ Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep.
Slow Down and Pick Up Your Roadside Crew!
This section of the road may have left you needing a well deserved break, so be on the lookout for a rest center. As you've probably figured out by now, there are lots of options in terms of loan programs and grants for families who need assistance in covering the financial gaps between their available funds and the costs to rebuild or repair. When you are rested up, don't forget to check out the Loan Product Matrix in the Financial Resource Guide, next. It is a more detailed description of the products and programs we've covered in this section.
In addition, a few key contacts are listed starting on the next page. All of these organizations can provide information and publications about affordable loan products to help you on your road to housing recovery.