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Year-end tax credits help the needy

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Silvia with her five children at one of the Maggie’s Place homes. Maggie’s Place benefits from the year-end tax credit.

Silvia with her five children at one of the Maggie’s Place homes. Maggie’s Place benefits from the year-end tax credit. (Kevin Theriault/CATHOLIC SUN)

Take the credit

Learn how to take advantage of the tax credit:

www.takethecredit.org

Silvia’s journey through parenthood has been a bumpy one to say the least. The single mother of four suffered a mental breakdown after a longtime relationship with the children’s father ended.

She entered a mental health facility and her mother gained custody of the children. She later became a victim of domestic violence.

Life spiraled further downward when Silvia spent a year in prison and became pregnant shortly after her release. Family and friends tried to convince her to end the pregnancy.

“I didn’t want to do that,” Silvia said. “I just wanted to get back on my feet.”

Her aunt heard about Maggie’s Place on Catholic radio and gave Silvia the phone number. The Catholic-run nonprofit operates three Valley homes that assist mothers who have no other system of support during their pregnancy and up to six months afterward.

“I was expecting to come to a place that was like a prison — just a dorm with bunks, a place to lay your head at night,” Silvia said.

What she found was a supportive environment that offered her a room, a bus pass, food, clothing, and a volunteer staff who cared about her well-being — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“This place is not a house,” Silvia said, “It’s a home.”

Silvia is just one of the countless individuals who have turned their life around with the support of local charitable organizations. All of them benefit greatly from donors and couldn’t survive without them.

That’s why several are pushing the year-end dollar-for-dollar tax credit. Arizonans can receive a tax credit of up to $400 when married and filing jointly and up to $200 when filing a single tax return.

An increase in this year’s private tuition tax credit means taxpayers can take a tax credit of $2,062 if filing jointly or $1,031 if filing a single return. Taxpayers have until April 15 to make that move and still have it count toward 2013 taxes. The tax credit works for anyone — part-time residents included — who pays any income tax.

Monetary donations to Maggie’s Place, Catholic Education Arizona, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Foundation for Senior Living and Catholic Charities Community Services all qualify donors for a tax credit.

“The private tuition tax credit helps the student, it helps the taxpayer at no cost to them, and it saves the state tens of millions of dollars annually by outsourcing education to Catholic schools,” said Paul Mulligan, president and CEO of Catholic Eduction Arizona.

Roseann Dennery, director of marketing for Maggie’s Place, calls the tax credit a “win-win” situation. It allows those who might not otherwise give a way to directly support the organization.

The tax credit helps charitable organizations that serve the community’s most vulnerable populations — low-income families, elderly and disabled on fixed incomes, homeless and refugees to name a few — while giving donors a dollar-for-dollar tax break.

Mary Chou-Thompson of St. Vincent de Paul calls the tax credit “a gift that gives twice.” It’s also a gift that feeds more than 1 million meals annually in St. Vincent de Paul’s five dining halls and provides close to 400,000 emergency food boxes to needy families and individuals.

They also provide transitional shelter and a medical and dental clinic for the uninsured.

Catholic Charities serves the community’s most vulnerable with programs like My Sister’s Place domestic violence shelter, homeless outreach programs, and Dignity House, a year-long residential program to help women leaving prostitution.

A large percentage of the agency’s donations flow in at year’s end, said Laura Toussaint-Newkirk, marketing and communications manager for Catholic Charities. She said it helps that donors know they can give online in their pajamas until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.

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