The Internal Revenue Service and community partners nationwide launched their annual outreach campaign aimed at helping millions of Americans who earned $49,078 or less take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
On Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, local officials and community organizations across the nation held news conferences and sponsored other events highlighting the benefits of this key work incentive for low- and moderate-income workers and working families.
The outreach campaign is necessary because one-third of the eligible population changes annually as their financial, marital and parental statuses change. Although an estimated four out of five eligible workers and families get the credit, one in five still miss out on it, either because they don’t claim it or don’t file a return at all.
"The EITC provides a financial boost for millions of hardworking Americans. But people can easily overlook this important credit, especially if their financial situation has changed. The IRS reminds taxpayers to look into this valuable credit to see if they qualify,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.
The EITC varies by income, family size and filing status. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov and answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant. In tax year 2010, almost 26.8 million eligible workers and families received over $59.5 billion total in EITC nationwide. The average EITC amount last year was around $2,200. In Rhode Island, more than 77,000 workers and families received more than $164 million in EITC. The average Rhode Island EITC amount last year was $2,122.
Workers who earned $49,078 or less from wages, self-employment or farm income last year could receive larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC. That could mean up to $464 in EITC for people without children, and a maximum credit of up to $5,751 for those with three or more qualifying children. Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, eligible people may get a refund from the IRS even if they owe no tax.
How to Claim the EITC
To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return, even if they are not required to file, and specifically claim the credit. Those eligible for the EITC have free options to file a tax return to claim the credit:
Free File on IRS.gov – Free brand-name tax software walks people through a question and answer format to help them prepare their returns and claim every credit and deduction for which they are eligible. The program also allows people to file electronically for free, giving them access to all their money, often in as little as 10 days.
Free tax preparation sites – EITC-eligible workers can seek free tax preparation at more than 12,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest VITA site, people can call the IRS at 800-906-9887. Taxpayers can also find VITA/TCE sites by calling their community’s 211 or 311 line for local services.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers – EITC-eligible workers can seek free assistance in IRS locations across the country. Locations are listed online at www.IRS.gov. Hours and services offered vary by location and should be checked before visiting.
More information on EITC and detailed eligibility rules are available at www.irs.gov/eitc.