DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A public awareness campaign aimed at getting more Detroit residents to claim earned income tax credits has resulted in $74 million more in state and federal refunds going to eligible individuals and families.

City officials say Thursday that 18,000 more Detroit residents claimed the credit on their 2016 tax returns than in the previous year.

Officials estimate that 26,000 eligible households don’t apply for the credit and upward of $80 million each year goes unclaimed by Detroit taxpayers. The city says the tax credit is available to working families and individuals who meet certain income requirements.

“For hard-working families and individuals or family to receive an additional $4,000 or more in their tax return means so much,” said Lisa Howze, Detroit’s Director of Legislative Affairs, who also led the campaign. “And it’s not just a one-time deal. They can claim this credit every year they qualify.”

The campaign by the city and other partners included 12 free tax preparation sites across Detroit, 30 billboards and 500 free tax preparation volunteers.

Mariah Allen of Detroit said she’s using her funds to buy a new car, pay bills boost her credit score so she can buy a house in the future.

“The process was incredibly easy,” she told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas. “I simply brought in the needed documents and sat down with a tax preparer and they helped me through every step of the way.”

“It was even much easier than doing it online by myself wondering, ‘What does this question mean?’ and ‘What does that question mean?'”

Learn more at this link.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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