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University of Iowa News Release

April 7, 2004

UI Disability Law Center To Sponsor National Tax Education Campaign

The Law, Health Policy and Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law is co-sponsoring a national outreach campaign to help low-income persons with disabilities achieve economic independence with the help of underused tax credits and banking programs.

Peter Blanck, Kierscht Professor of Law and director of the LHPDC, said the campaign, "Tax Facts," is a response to the growing awareness that favorable tax credits and financial relationships with banking institutions are underutilized by persons with disabilities, their families and employers.

"Government-sponsored programs such as the IRS' LifeCycle Series and the FDIC's Money Smart Financial Education Program provide free, valuable consumer information and services for low-income individuals," Blanck said. "Such services are critical considering that persons with disabilities are three times more likely to be living at or below the poverty level and at least 10 times more likely to be unemployed."

Michael Morris, director of LHPDC's Washington, DC, office says "The Tax Facts campaign is intended to build knowledge for individuals with disabilities, their families and businesses of programs through financial education. Tax Facts will expand opportunities for persons with disabilities, their families and employers to achieve economic independence and build assets."

According to Johnette Hartnett, LHPDC director of Public Policy, the initiative, "Tax Facts," kicks off April 15 with a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Following that, the initiative will use new and existing materials that provide information on the government programs and improved marketing of services to raise awareness. A three-part audio conference will provide information and one-day training sessions will be scheduled in 12 major cities nationwide designated as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites (VITA) to build capacity for persons with disabilities. The training will be a collaborative effort among the FDIC, IRS and other financial and disability systems involved with persons with disabilities, their families and employers.

The event at the Press Club will include a panel of persons with disabilities, family members, employers and tax experts to discuss the use of tax provisions for persons with disabilities. LHPDC's work in this area is part of its newly funded "Asset Accumulation and Tax Policy Project" (AATPP) that is 100 percent funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). AATPP unites organizations serving Iowans and persons with disabilities around the country with credit unions and financial institutions to produce research on barriers and opportunities of tax and public policies. The research and policy recommendations will improve the economic independence, social empowerment, and community integration of persons with disabilities.

AATPP is a collaboration with Southern New Hampshire University School of Community Economic Development, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the World Institute on Disability and the National Cooperative Bank Development Corporation. More information about AATPP is available at http://disability.law.uiowa.edu/lhpdc/projects/assetdevtaxpol.html.
Other sponsors of the Tax Facts campaign include the Office on Disability of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Disability Institute, NCB Development Corporation and the National Cooperative Bank.

The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center is a leader in law, technology, education and research, focused on improving the quality of life for persons living with disabilities. Based at the University of Iowa College of Law, with offices in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, the Center concentrates on public policy and its impact on persons with disabilities. For more information on this and other center projects, see http://disability.law.uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu