Resources to Help With Heating Bills

Governor Snyder has designated February as Keep Michigan Warm Month. Even though this winter has been milder than past winters, there are many who will still need help with heating bills.

Last year, more than 484,000 Michigan residents received a combined total of almost $67 million in aid through the Home Heating Credit program, which is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Last year’s average credit was $138.  Due to federal funding cuts, that’s expected to be lower this year.  Though the deadline to file is Sept. 30, 2012, residents are encouraged to file early.

“Qualifying Michigan residents can get help with their heating bills through a Michigan Home Heating Credit and a federal Earned Income Credit,” said Whitney Skeans, our customer assistance coordinator. The Home Heating Credit can be used for all types of primary heating fuel, including natural gas, propane and purchased firewood. You do not need to file a state tax return to apply.

Home Heating Credit forms (MI-1040CR-7) are available at most public libraries, Secretary of State branch offices, Department of Human Services branch offices, or through our website. The federal Earned Income Credit is another refundable federal income tax credit available to qualifying low-income taxpayers.  It must be filed during tax season. For income guidelines, contact your employer or the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-3676. You can also contact the  Michigan Department of Treasury at (517) 636-4486 for more information or for downloadable forms.

Consumers Energy employee-volunteers are also hosting Accounting Aid Society volunteers at our Pontiac service center, 1030 Featherstone at Opdyke Road. Volunteers will assist southeast Michigan residents with the Home Heating Credit applications each Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. until April 14. The service center is handicapped-accessible. Other locations for tax filing assistance are available through the Accounting Aid Society or Michigan VITA.

Information on ways to manage your winter energy bills as well as a link to the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm can be found at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/bewinterwise_138994_7.htm