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January 25, 2016

Take three simple steps to help gain maximum tax refunds

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, 612-626-4077 (office) or 651-492-0811 (cell),; Taylor Putz, Prepare + Prosper, 651-262-2160 (office) or 920-904-4395 (cell);, or Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension, 612-203-6403 (cell),

ST PAUL, Minn. (1/22/2016)—Tax season is here, and University of Minnesota Extension and the Claim It Campaign encourage low- to moderate-income taxpayers to prepare.

“Tax season is an incredibly important time for hardworking low- and moderate-income families,” said Tracy Fischman, executive director of Prepare + Prosper, which manages Claim It. “Through refundable tax credits, people can think about using their tax refund to pay for necessities, fix a broken car and save for the future.”

Below are three tips to help make the most of the 2016 tax season.

  1. Save hundreds of dollars by filing for free. Minnesota has more than 290 free tax preparation sites where taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers who will help you get your maximum refund. Individuals or households that made under $62,000 also can file online for free using MyFreeTaxes
  2. If you use a paid tax preparer, ask questions. Find out about service fees. Make sure the preparer is accessible after April 18 if you need to follow up. Be sure to bring all all your documents including a Social Security card or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), picture identification and income statements to your meeting with a preparer. 
  3. You may receive up to $6,242 from the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you had earned income in 2015 and made less than $53,267, you could be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit
Use your refund to get ahead. Consider putting a portion of your refund into your savings account to save for a rainy day or use it to help you pay down debt. You could also use your refund to buy a U.S. Savings Bond or start a $3-for-$1 matched FAIM savings account.

There are three extra days to file this year. Tax deadline is April 18. The last day to claim a Minnesota property tax refund is Aug. 15.

“Tax time can be a time for working individuals and families to get ahead,” said Mary Jo Katras, Extension’s family resiliency program leader. “Getting a tax refund provides individuals and families the opportunity to think about their financial situation and set financial goals, paying off existing debt or setting some aside for an emergency fund.”

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at

University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Claim it! is a statewide public awareness campaign to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit and free tax preparation for Minnesotans, funded by the Greater Twin Cities United Way. For more information, call 651-262-2160. For more information, go to or dial United Way’s 2-1-1 or 1-800-543-7709 to talk with a live operator, open 24/7.

New U of M Extension study of large dairies finds good news

Dairy cow
Recent dairy farm trends in the United States include fewer, but larger, operations and an increase in the share of milk production from very large farms. Cost advantages of larger farms appear to be driving the consolidation within the dairy industry. However,large operations are thought of by some as a place that is not good for cows.

Marcia Endres, University of Minnesota Extension dairy scientist, wanted to investigate: What is animal care really like in these large dairies? Are these dairies economically different from smaller dairies?

January 04, 2016

Extension helps bridge gaps through 4-H campus immersion

Exploring the U of M campus

Many young people aspire to go to college, but there’s a gap between aspirations for higher education and actually enrolling. This is an important gap to address because lower levels of educational attainment are associated with higher levels of poverty.

University of Minnesota Extension's CYFAR (Children, Youth and Families at Risk) team knows that, in order to keep young teens on track, learning needs to engage them regardless of the circumstances in their lives.
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