JACKSON, Mich., Feb. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With income tax preparation season in full swing, Consumers Energy is helping raise awareness among income qualified Michigan residents that help with heating bills may be available through a Michigan Home Heating Credit and federal Earned Income Credit.
The Home Heating Credit can be used for all types of primary heating fuel, including natural gas, propane and purchased firewood. Renters may also qualify for the credit. Even if households do not make enough money to file income taxes, they can still apply for a Home Heating Credit. Applicants are encouraged to file early for this credit to obtain refunds sooner, though the filing deadline is September 30, 2014.
Last year, more than 366,700 Michigan residents received a combined total of $45.4 million in aid through the Home Heating Credit program, which is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Last year's average credit for Consumers Energy customers was $137. Even so, each year a significant share of home heating credits go unclaimed by income-eligible households.
"Tax season is an ideal time to file the Home Heating Credit since free preparation assistance is available throughout much of the state," said Whitney Skeans, Consumers Energy's customer assistance coordinator. "We want to make sure our customers know of these additional ways to receive help with heating bills, and encourage them to find the nearest free tax site by dialing 2-1-1, a free service spearheaded by the United Way."
Home Heating Credit forms (MI-1040CR-7) are available at the following locations: via the website www.michigan.gov/taxes, at most public libraries, Secretary of State branch offices, Department of Human Services branch offices, or linked from Consumers Energy's Assistance section on its website: www.consumersenergy.com/assistance. By calling Consumers Energy toll-free at (800) 477-5050, customer service representatives can conveniently provide last year's total heat cost, which is required to complete the form. This information can also be found on December, January, and February Consumers Energy billing statements.
The federal Earned Income Credit is another refundable federal income tax credit available to qualifying low-income taxpayers. It must be filed during tax season. For income guidelines, contact your employer, call the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-3676, or visit www.irs.gov.
The Michigan Department of Treasury can answer questions about both forms; information is available by calling (517) 636-4486.
The state of Michigan is promoting an umbrella of energy assistance programs and public awareness-raising initiatives throughout February, designated by Governor Snyder as Keep Michigan Warm Month. Visit the Michigan Public Service Commission's Be WinterWise campaign website to learn more at http://www.michigan.gov/winterwise.
In addition, Consumers Energy has launched the Severe Weather Assistance Team to help customers with payment assistance, and the company is sharing ways to save energy as part of its Beat the Freeze campaign. Also, there's still time for income-qualified residents to sign up for the CARE program and get bill relief. For details, call (800) 477-5050 or visit www.consumersenergy.com/assistance.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's nearly 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Home Heating Credit forms (MI-1040CR-7) are available via the website www.michigan.gov/taxes, at most public libraries, Secretary of State branch offices, Department of Human Services branch offices, or linked from Consumers Energy's Assistance section on its website: www.consumersenergy.com/assistance.
Direct questions about Home Heating, Earned Income tax forms to Michigan Department of Treasury at (517) 636-4486.
Consumers Energy: Debra Dodd, 586-918-0597; or Brian Wheeler, 517-788-2394
Michigan Public Service Commission, Be WinterWise: Judy Palnau, 517-241-3323
United Way 2-1-1: Tom Page, 517-664-9811
Accounting Aid Society: Vicky Billington, 313-556-1920
SOURCE Consumers Energy