Imagine if you qualified for a valuable tax credit but weren't even aware of it. Unfortunately, this is the case for far too many Americans when it comes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) -- and you might even be among them.
Congress enacted the EITC in 1975 to assist working families and individuals. It has helped lift millions of hardworking people out of poverty, and in fragile economic times, this spring, it will be particularly valuable to workers and families with low to moderate incomes. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that one out of every five eligible filers fail to claim the credit.*
Households earning less than $51,567 in 2013 may qualify to claim the EITC and could be eligible to receive a tax credit of as much as $6,044 from the IRS. As we all know, for many people right now, a few thousand dollars can make the difference between getting by and not. People have used the EITC to pay for necessities such as rent, bills and home and vehicle repairs. In some cases, the tax credit has helped people boost their emergency funds and long-term investments, such as education. With many Americans still unemployed or underemployed, many will use the credit just to fulfill basic needs this year. What many people don't realize is that even those workers who do not need to file federal tax returns based on salary, must do so to claim the credit.
In recognition of EITC Awareness Day on January 31, and throughout the 2014 tax-filing season, Goodwill Industries International is partnering with the IRS to assist people around the country who may qualify for the tax credit. Local Goodwill agencies, as well as many other IRS partners, are promoting the EITC in their communities and operating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to provide free tax preparation services to workers who qualify. To find a VITA site near you, visit the IRS website.
We are also committed to providing free federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance, both online and in-person, to individuals and families that earn less than $58,000 a year. Powered by Walmart and in partnership with National Disability Institute and United Way, MyFreeTaxes has helped millions of workers claim more than $8 billion dollars collectively in tax credits, and helped individuals save hundreds of dollars in filer fees since 2009. New this year to the website is an online calculator to help filers see if they qualify for EITC, by simply entering their total household income and filing status.
By claiming the tax credits they have earned this year, millions of hardworking Americans will be able to improve their financial stability and better care for their families. Unfortunately, all too often the people who need help the most are also unfamiliar with the resources needed to get the credits they deserve. As an organization committed to helping individuals and families achieve financial success, Goodwill is proud to partner with the IRS to ensure all eligible individuals and families have a chance to claim the credits they have earned.
*CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that four out of five eligible filers failed to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.