It’s tax time, and the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) is ramping up it’s “Take the Credit” campaign, which encourages all to remember two sometimes forgotten tax credits that could mean the difference between eviction for renters or foreclosure for homeowners.
Those credits are the Maryland Renter’s Tax Credit and the Maryland Homeowner’s Tax Credit, where eligible renters or homeowners can receive as much as $1,000 each year.
“This may sound cliché, but I believe in the mission of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition to ensure that vulnerable groups, particularly older adults, are protected, and have access to information and assistance when needed,” said Francine Hyman, the financial counselor of MCRC’s SOAR initiative where she provides support to older adults by connecting them to community resources.
Hyman’s work with the SOAR initiative includes assisting older adults navigate the Renters' and Homeowners' Tax Credit application processes, as well as conducting benefit checkups and providing financial counseling.
“There are two important aspects of my work. The first is to empower older adults to advocate for themselves, and the second is to support older adults in remaining in their homes,” Hyman said. “To date, it's estimated that we've reached more than 30,000 individuals through our outreach efforts, and I've directly assisted more than 400 people through application assistance and consumer education training.”
Hyman added that renters and homeowners should apply each year for the respective credits available. Applications are now being accepted.
Born in Jamaica, Hyman moved to Baltimore when she was 15 and has lived in the Charm City area for more than 20 years. Before working at MCRC, Hyman was a Direct Service Case Manager who provided support to older adults, youth and families throughout Baltimore City. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management of Aging Services and a Bachelor’s in Social Work, both from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. A military veteran, Hyman says social work chose her.
“I’ve worked in environments surrounded by older adults and grew frustrated watching them try to navigate complex systems to get help, sometimes with no resolve,” she said. “After undergrad, many expected me to follow up with an MSW in social work. I figured I would get the best of both worlds with a background in social work and a focus on aging services.”
Hyman says financial fraud and abuse now costs seniors nationwide $2.9 billion each year and harms one in five older Americans.
“As a program of the MCRC, SOAR provides application assistance with the renters and homeowners' tax credits, earned benefit screenings, and financial counseling and coaching for older adults,” Hyman said.
Now, particularly during the tax-filing season, Hyman is focused on the “Take the Credit” campaign.
She related the story of both a homeowner and a renter who recently benefited.
“One person was on the tax sale list and did not know where to begin to navigate the process. She was referred to us from the Baltimore City tax office, and we successfully assisted her in applying for retroactive credits, which was enough to have her removed from the tax sale process,” Hyman said. “There was a renter who lost her job and was facing eviction. We assisted her in applying for the renter’s tax credit, and she received the maximum amount of $1,000.”
For more information about the tax credits or to apply for the credit, visit www.MarylandTaxCredit.com. For assistance with the application process, call the Maryland Tax Credit Hotline at 443-961-0220.