Over $6 Million in 2016 Tax Refunds for Delawareans Still Available from IRS

Returns must be filed by July 15th

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), unclaimed income tax refunds from 2016 worth more than $6 million remain available to an estimated 5,600 taxpayers in Delaware who did not file a 2016 federal income tax return.

The law typically provides a period of three years for taxpayers to claim a tax refund, but that was extended to July 15th this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Time is running out, so I urge every Delaware taxpayer who is due a refund from 2016 to file now,” said State Treasurer Colleen Davis. “There is no penalty for a late filing if a refund is due, but taxpayers lose the opportunity to claim their money if their returns are not filed by next week.”

Refunds of taxes withheld are not the only things people stand to lose by not filing. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2016, the credit was worth as much as $6,269.

Taxpayers can find current and past tax year forms, along with instructions, on the IRS Forms and Publications page, or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Nationally, the IRS estimates more than $1.5 billion is available to approximately 1.4 million individual taxpayers who did not file a 2016 tax return. Refunds not claimed become the property of the U.S. Treasury.

View the state by state breakdown here.


Governor Carney Signs Vote By Mail Legislation

House Bill 346 creates safe, more direct alternative to in-person voting due to COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del.  – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed into law House Bill 346, legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst that allows Delawareans to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, general and special elections. House Bill 346 makes voting by mail an alternative to in-person voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and establishes procedures for voting by mail which mirror the procedures for absentee voting. Voting by mail does not replace in-person voting, which will be available for those not voting by absentee or mail ballot.

Watch video of bill signing on Facebook or YouTube.

“My position on this issue has been simple and consistent. We should make it easier – not harder – for all Delawareans to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” said Governor Carney. “That’s especially important this year as our state and country continue to grapple with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will make sure that Delawareans can fairly and securely cast their ballots and have their voices heard.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives as we have taken steps to protect residents’ health and reduce the spread of the virus. No resident should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote, and House Bill 346 will make sure no one has to make that difficult choice,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, the lead sponsor of the bill. “This new law gives every voter the option to cast their ballot by mail. Given the uncertainties of the virus and the steps we have to take to limit its spread, this is a critical option. We’ve done this the right way, using an existing, successful absentee voting system Delaware has used for decades. What we have done today will ensure that the 2020 elections in Delaware are a model for other states, not a ‘what went wrong?’ highlight on TV.”

“No one should ever have to choose between their health and voting in a free and open election,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “With another spike of coronavirus cases expected in the fall just as many Delawareans prepare to exercise their fundamental right to vote, we have an obligation to provide our constituents – particularly those with a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 – with safe, secure options for casting their ballots. House Bill 346 does not prevent a single person from voting in person, but it will give voters a choice that will preserve our democracy and could very well save lives.”

 

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Delaware Poets Laureate Receive a 2020 Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets awards a combined total of $1.1 million to 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows

New York, NY (May 28, 2020) – The Academy of American Poets announced today that the Delaware Poets Laureate, Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, also known as the Twin Poets, have received $50,000 to launch Write Now!, an art-based community building and engagement series, including workshops, readings and service projects, focused on youth in communities impacted by gun violence and fellow veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The series will culminate with the Write Now! Poetry Festival and will take place in April 2021.

The brothers and identical twins are Licensed Master Social Workers and founders of Art For Life – Delaware, a non-profit youth and community development organization rooted in the arts. The Twin Poets were the subjects of award-winning documentaries: Why I Write and Art For Life; which chronicle their artistic social change efforts. Watch the full documentary here. Al is an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD and Nnamdi is a State Representative and professor at Delaware State University.

The Delaware Poets Laureate are two of the 23 individuals that were announced as 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. These 23 individuals serve as Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation and will be leading civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000* for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will also provide $66,500 to 12 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the fellows’ proposed projects.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“We are gratified to support the poets laureate fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are Honey Bell-Bey (Cuyahoga County, OH), Tina Cane (Rhode Island), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY), Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills aka Twin Poets (Delaware), Rosemarie Dombrowski (Phoenix, AZ), Beth Ann Fennelly (Mississippi), Angelo Geter (Rock Hill, SC), Margaret Gibson (Connecticut), Rodney Gomez (McAllen, TX), Elizabeth Jacobson (Santa Fe, NM), Stuart Kestenbaum (Maine), Susan Landgraf (Auburn, WA), Maria Lisella (Queens, NY), Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, MA), Alexandria Peary (New Hampshire), Emmy Pérez (Texas), Mary Ruefle (Vermont), Janice Lobo Sapigao (Santa Clara County, CA), John Warner Smith (Louisiana), Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation), Amie Whittemore (Murfreesboro, TN), and Assétou Xango (Aurora, CO).

Additional information about the Academy of American Poets 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and their projects is available on the Academy’s website.

About the Delaware Poet Laureate
Delaware’s Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate, educator, and presenter of poetry throughout the state. Delaware’s Poet Laureate program is managed by the Delaware Division of the Arts. The Division promotes the Poet Laureate’s events and activities and manages the calendar of appearances and provides a stipend to the Poet Laureate for appearances at nonprofit organizations. More information about the program is available at: https://arts.delaware.gov/poet-laureate/. Banner photo: Cylinda McCloud-Keal *The Delaware Poets Laureate will receive $50,000 in total.

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov


The Delaware Division of the Arts, a branch of the Delaware Department of State, is dedicated to cultivating and supporting the arts to enhance the quality of life for all Delawareans. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit arts.delaware.gov or call 302-577-8278.


Governor Carney Announces Lifting of Short-Term Rental Ban, Out-of-State Quarantine on June 1

Outdoor gatherings up to 250 people also permitted on June 1, with precautions to protect the most vulnerable

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that the State of Delaware will lift the ban on short-term rental units and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers on June 1 as part of the rolling reopening of Delaware’s economy.

Governor Carney previously lifted State of Delaware restrictions on Delaware beaches ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

Phase 1 of Delaware’s economic reopening is scheduled to begin on June 1, allowing retail establishments, restaurants and other businesses to open at 30 percent of stated fire capacity with social distancing requirements and other public health guidance in place. 

Read the State of Delaware’s Phase 1 economic reopening guidance.

“We want visitors to enjoy Delaware, our world-class beaches and restaurants, but it’s important that everyone remember that COVID-19 is still very much active in Delaware,” said Governor Carney. “Delawareans who visited our beaches this past weekend acted responsibly, taking basic precautions to protect their families and their neighbors. Thank you. We all need to continue taking steps to protect our most vulnerable. Those steps aren’t complicated. Wash your hands frequently. Maintain distance between yourself and others. Wear a face covering when you’re in a public setting. Don’t let up.”

Governor Carney also announced on Tuesday that outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people – including weddings and outdoor graduation ceremonies – will be permitted in Delaware beginning on June 1, with basic public health precautions in place to protect against spread of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings must be worn in accordance with Governor Carney’s State of Emergency declaration, and individuals must maintain social distance of at least six feet from anyone outside of their household. 

Gatherings over 250 individuals are not permitted during Phase 1. However, organizers of planned outdoor large gatherings and events may apply to host a large gathering or event by submitting a plan to the Delaware Division of Small Business at least seven days prior to the event. The Delaware Department of Education will release guidance for outdoor graduations later today. 

Read the State of Delaware’s guidance for outdoor gatherings for full details. 

Outdoor gatherings should only be carried out if there is strict adherence to social distancing and other public health guidance from the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are intended to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19 infection and serious illness. 

In conjunction with the easing of certain business, travel and gathering restrictions, Governor Carney will lift Delaware’s stay-at-home order effective June 1, but he cautioned that Delawareans should continue to avoid unnecessary outings and gatherings to limit community spread of COVID-19.

“We are where we are because Delawareans listened and stayed home,” said Governor Carney. “While we are slowly reopening our economy, it’s critical that Delawareans not rush out and undo all the hard work they’ve done to get us to this point. Let’s continue to be cautious and responsible as we ease our way into this new normal.”

The State of Delaware will release guidance later this week on summer school programs and summer camps. 

For additional details about Delaware’s economic reopening, visit de.gov/economy

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, should call Delaware 2-1-1, or email info@delaware211.org. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medical-related questions related to testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov

Click here to find the latest COVID-19 testing locations.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

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Governor Carney Launches Public Education Campaign with Beach Towns as Delaware Beaches Reopen

Effort aims to raise awareness on beach restrictions, individual responsibility in COVID-19 mitigation, ahead of Memorial Day Weekend and summer season

WILMINGTON, Del. –  Governor John Carney on Friday launched the “Summer Safely” public education campaign in partnership with the beach towns, local Chambers of Commerce, the Delaware Tourism Office, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

The public education effort seeks to reinforce the restrictions on the Delaware beaches and to encourage Delawareans to take the proper steps to mitigate COVID-19 as we head into the summer season. Governor Carney lifted State of Delaware restrictions that limited access for only walking and exercise starting at 5:00 p.m. today, May 22, ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

The key messages of the “Summer Safely” initiative are:

  • Practice social distancing. Stay 6 feet apart.
  • Wear a face covering in public places.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

“We look forward to welcoming Delawareans back at the beach this weekend, but we all need to take basic precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Carney. “Wear a face covering in public settings. Keep your distance from others. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. I know it’s unusual, but we know that’s the best way to prevent transmission of the disease. Now’s not the time to let up.”

The campaign will begin on Friday with metal signage at entryways to the beaches, stickers on takeout containers, and decals on windows of retailers. Promotional tactics will expand as the summer progresses.

A team of Beach Ambassadors in “Summer Safely” t-shirts will also greet beachgoers starting this Friday to educate Delawareans about the proper ways to mitigate coronavirus and point individuals to resources when they seek additional information. The team of Beach Ambassadors have been trained by the Division of Public Health and the Delaware Tourism Office on how to address questions and the resources to provide members of the public. Beach Ambassadors also will use and distribute hand sanitizer produced by Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna.

“For many, travel will be different this year. As we enter this season, we join with state and local leaders to remind everyone to summer safely and hope Delawareans will use this opportunity to rediscover the landscapes and tourism businesses in their own backyards,” said Liz Keller, Delaware Tourism Director. “The beaches are part of what makes Delaware such a special place to live in and travel to. We also look forward to welcoming back out-of-state visitors when it is once again safe to do so.”

“As Health Secretary I know it’s important for people to spend time outside for physical activity as a way to bolster both our physical and emotional health,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “While we know that the risk for transmission of the virus does decrease when we are outdoors, we must remain vigilant about maintaining social distancing, wearing a face covering if we can’t stay 6 feet away from others, washing our hands and using hand sanitizer as often as possible, and coughing and sneezing into our face covering or our elbow. To keep the beaches open, we all need to help prevent flare-ups of COVID-19 by protecting ourselves and others.”

“We know the importance of getting outdoors, to stay active and healthy, maybe now more than ever,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Our beaches within Delaware State Parks can be a space for Delawareans to safely enjoy the outdoors – to swim, boat, fish, kayak and more – but only if everyone follows the public health requirements to avoid groups and practice social distancing. We’ll do our part to monitor the number of visitors to our parks, but we also urge Delawareans to take this time to explore our less-traveled parks, trails and spaces.”

“The Association of Coastal Towns membership has worked cooperatively with Governor Carney, State officials and local leaders to ensure a consistent message is relayed to our residents and visitors this coming summer season,” said Association of Coastal Towns Chairman Gene Langan. “The message being conveyed is to come enjoy Delaware’s beautiful beaches and do so safely. We are looking forward to an improving health situation in Delaware and welcoming back visitors to all of our beaches.”

“All of our businesses are ready to once again open their doors and get back to business,” said the Association of Chambers of Commerce in Delaware. “As the Chambers of Commerce in Delaware, we ask everyone in the state, residents and visitors, to do their part so that we can all get back to business as normal and all enjoy shopping locally.”

“Small Businesses and tourism are the lifeblood of our state, and Painted Stave Distilling is very pleased to be able to help get our state beaches open through the beach ambassador program,” said Mike Rasmussen, Co-owner Painted Stave Distilling. “COVID-19 has forced many small businesses to shift how we do business, and we are glad that we have been able to produce something needed to stay safe by so many businesses and citizens in our state.”

For additional details about Delaware’s economic reopening, visit de.gov/economy

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, should call Delaware 2-1-1, or email info@delaware211.org. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medical-related questions related to testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

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