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J.D. Scholten launches group to help low-income Iowans get tax credits

Working Hero Iowa will promote Earned Income Tax Credit

J.D. Scholten speaks during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Scholten announced the creation of a nonprofit organization that will educate low-income, working class families on the availability of a state and federal income tax credits. (Erin Murphy/The Gazette-Lee Des Moines bureau)
J.D. Scholten speaks during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Scholten announced the creation of a nonprofit organization that will educate low-income, working class families on the availability of a state and federal income tax credits. (Erin Murphy/The Gazette-Lee Des Moines bureau)

SIOUX CITY — J.D. Scholten, the Sioux City Democrat who nearly unseated U.S. Rep. Steve King in 2018, on Wednesday announced the creation of a statewide organization designed to educate working families that tapping into an existing tax credit can improve their financial standing.

During a news conference Wednesday morning at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, Scholten and progressive entrepreneur Joe Sanberg, of California, announced the launch of Working Hero Iowa, a nonprofit organization that will promote the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Scholten said the tax credit is designed to encourage and reward work by supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers. He said Working Hero Iowa in the months leading to the April 15 filing day will highlight the benefits of the tax credit, and also direct people to free tax preparation services.

Scholten said it is important that Iowans who qualify — based on income level — receive the credit, which he called “the most effective anti-poverty policy in America.”

“Iowans are leaving millions of dollars on the table by not doing all that we can to let those who are eligible know about their state and federal earned income tax credit,” Scholten said during the news conference. “Us at Working Hero plan to correct that.”

Sanberg said 53,000 Iowa families are eligible for the credit, which he said helps low-income families pay for necessities like groceries, rent and utility bills.

“In partnership with J.D. Scholten, we’re going to fight until every single Iowan who works can afford life’s basic needs,” Sanberg said. “We’ll be here as long as it takes, we’ll spend whatever is required to make sure that every Iowan who is eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit gets the cash ... because if any single Iowan who is working can’t afford life’s basic needs, that’s one Iowan too many.”

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Scholten said his organization will work to partner with others — like AARP and United Way — to spread its message and will operate similar to a grass roots campaign by traveling across the state to educate Iowans. He said events will be announced soon.

Scholten, a first-time candidate, lost to King by just 3 percentage points in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, a district with 70,000 more registered Republican voters than Democrats. It was King’s closest re-election victory in his nine-term career in Congress.

Asked about his political plans, Scholten said he is focused on Working Hero Iowa but also left the door open to a future campaign.

“November of 2020 seems pretty darn far away, to me at least. So I’m just trying to get this pushed, going around the state, raising awareness,” Scholten said. “But I’m leaving the door open.”

Erin Murphy contributed from Des Moines.

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