Those who live in Michigan have the benefit of a few programs that have been renewed once again in Michigan.
1. The Home Heating Credit:
This Credit Form is generally filed with the tax return, but can be filed independently. If taxpayers meet the income guidelines, refunds are offered based on heating bills from this previous winter. This must be filed by September 30, 2015. Credits are provided in the form of checks or in vouchers to the heating service provider. Heating customers are protected from shut off from the time the Home Heating Credit form is filed with the Treasury until the credit is issued if SEMCO is notified that the form has been filed. Taxpayers must then use the credit to pay for gas used during the shut off period.
2. State Earned Income Credit (SEIC):
Filers in Michigan can claim a SEIC that equals a percentage of the federal earned income credit for which they were eligible.
3. Senior Protection Program:
Any SEMCO customer age 65 or older, no matter the income, who notifies SEMCO, is protected from shut off from November 1 through March 31. After this period, the bill is due in full, or payment arrangements must be made along with current bills.
4. State Emergency Relief (SER) Program:
This is operated through the MI Department of Human Services (DHS), although being a client is not required. Help is provided for past due bills or shut off notices during what is considered the crisis season, November 1st through May 31st. There is a possibility of help outside of this time frame. Assistance can be found at DHS or at the Home Heating Hotline (1-855-275-6424).
5. Winter Protection Plan (WPP):
This also protects seniors from heat cutoff from Nov. 1st through Mar. 31st. Income must be at or below 150% of the poverty level or the taxpayer needs to be receiving Department of Human Services cash assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps, or Medicaid. Heating cost will eventually have to be paid in monthly installments along with the current bill and sign up prior to the period is required. Contact SEMCO for details.
6. Medical Emergency Protection:
If the taxpayer or any member of the household has a medical emergency that can be documented by a physician, you can be protected from shut off for as much as 21 days. There is a form for the doctor to complete. Contact SEMCO for the form and details.
7. Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF):
This group provides help to vets and their families who have energy/heat needs or a financial emergency and hardship.
There are many other organizations in Michigan, such as the Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), seeking to keep Michiganders warm this winter. If the heating credit is not an option for you on your tax return, perhaps one of these other service providers can keep your mittens toasty!