Monday, March 9, 2009
The deadline to file your income tax return is just more than a month away and many filers are just now noticing that they can give all or a portion of their state income tax refund to one of 5 charities. One of those charities is The Military Family Relief Assistance Program. (MFRAP) The fund is run by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Chris Cleaver is a lieutenant Colonel with the Pennsylvania National Guard and spokesperson for the fund. He says the money goes to veterans and families of active duty members of the military who have fallen on hard economic times. In the past the fund has helped veterans dealing with fire damage at their home, an auto accident or an unexpected bill. Cleaver says the fund tries to stay as flexible as possible because so many other programs provide assistance for very specific situations. Since its inception the fund has taken in half a million dollars. 80% has come from the tax check-off program. Cleaver says so far, only $100,000 has been spent. The program will not appear on the PA 40 form next year. Cleaver says the fund is in good shape right now and they hope to be able function using individual donations and the interest accrued from the account. Cleaver says knowing how much the members of the military have given to their commonwealth and their country they are deserving of the help when they fall on hard times. Vets and active military families in need can apply to the Military family relief fund for assistance and cleaver says about half of those requests have been granted. The fund also keeps on eye on local papers and vets groups in an effort to find those in need who may not know about the fund. Last year MFRAP received $166,800 from the PA-40 refund check off program.