The stubborn long-term unemployment rate is just beginning to decline. Over the past several years it set into motion a domino effect of poverty from homelessness. First a person loses a job, and then they lose their car and home because they cannot afford them. This causes an increase in the homeless population. Studies show that children growing up in a homeless family do not succeed as well in school and often have behavior problems. The cycle of poverty is a complex and devastating spiral that will grow deep within the next generation and exacerbate if it is not dealt with quickly.
Did you know that you could use an Arizona state tax credit to help solve this problem and reduce your tax liability? You may ask, “Since when does the state let me control my taxes?” The answer is: When you take advantage of the Arizona state tax credit for Helping the Working Poor.
The state of Arizona provides you a way to give back to your community and receive a state tax credit for both the school and Helping the Working Poor tax credits. Not only do you receive the dollar-for-dollar credit on your state taxes, but you can deduct this amount on your federal income tax return. Visit the Arizona Department of Revenue website — azdor.gov — to find qualifying organizations.
Fifty-four percent of the homeless in Arizona are children and 44 percent of those children are under the age of 5. What a tragic statistic. It’s not just the homeless who are in dire need of services. The socio-economic group of the working poor is growing larger and faster than ever. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor reported at least 10 million people worked and were still below the official U.S. poverty line. One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.
A New Leaf is one example of a non-profit agency that helps the working poor by providing shelter and basic needs. At La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter and East Valley Men’s Center Shelter, families and individuals are taught skills that will help change their lives forever.
These are two of many initiatives out there to end homelessness. Be a part of the solution. Give the support the homeless and working poor need to be self-reliant.
Todd Skinner is the principal at Skinner + Company accounting firm and a member of the board of directors, treasurer and past chair of A New Leaf, a human services agency based in Mesa.