Once a year at the end of January the Internal Revenue Services and its partners do a one day media event to advertise the Earned Income Tax Credit program, a tax program that has been around since the Nixon Administration. Today, January 27, 2017, is another EITC Awareness Day.
The good points about EITC are that it provides tax relief for low and moderate income working families. The IRS even encourages people to take advantage of it. They partner with software companies to make tax filing free to many households. Checkout Free File. EITC tax refunds lift millions out of poverty and make life a little easier.
The bad news is that one out of five households do not take advantage by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. In New Jersey, an estimated 197,000 taxpayers are losing out of an average EITC refund totaling approximately $2350. Do the math – unclaimed tax refunds equal to $462 million. To make matters worse, New Jersey once was recognized as a leader of EITC but now has sunk to near bottom, 45th among 50 states, in the EITC participation rate ranking. See https://www.eitc.irs.gov/EITC-Central/Participation-Rate.
Here are a few tips. To find a free tax preparation site (generally if you make $54,000 a year or less) visit either NJ 2-1-1 Partnership’s NJ VITA Sites or IRS Get Free Tax Prep Help Page or the AARP Tax-Aide Locator.
To first find out if you qualify, visit the EITC Assistant. By answering all the questions you can find out if you are eligible for EITC. The tool also provides an estimate of the amount of your credit.
Employers have a responsibility to let their workers know about this program. They should be distributing a notice titled, “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?” Ask your employer to runoff copies and attach it to W-2 statements.
There are a number of web sites useful to IRS partners, employers, government agencies/offices and nonprofits. These website provide outreach material, flyers and other social media tools. They include: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign and EITC Central. County welfare agencies and One Stop Career Centers distribute the Division of Family Development’s 2016 EITC Fact Sheet.
EITC Awareness Day – can you afford to do without it?
Other useful tax preparation assistance information is available at the NJ Community Resources website.