People who work and earn less than $51,567 from wages, self-employment or farming may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, and free help preparing their tax return. January 31 marks National EITC Day, a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites, and the launching of free tax assistance through the Human Services Department.
Although an estimated four out of five eligible workers and families get the credit, one in five still miss EITC because they don't claim it when filing or don't file a tax return. This is money that can make a difference. For tax year 2011, the credit returned close to $62 billion dollars to more than 27 million workers. For the City of Virginia Beach, more than $75 million dollars was refunded to citizens, but there may be up to $18.8 million more that remains unclaimed.
Workers who qualify for EITC could receive larger refunds. It can mean up to $475 in EITC for people without children, and up to $6,044 for those with three or more qualifying children. EITC varies by income, family size and filing status, and the average EITC amount last year was $2,100.
The EITC is available to working individuals and to some with disability income. They earned it. Now they must file, claim it and get it. EITC is a valuable tax break for working families. To help families receive this credit; the city Department of Human Services has organized free help from IRS-certified volunteers. Tax help can be accessed several ways:
· Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EITC Day at Human Services
· Fridays during February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Human Services, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd.
· March 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Super Saturday, hosted by Youth Career Center at Pembroke Mall
· At local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the City
· Jan. 24 to April 15 at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library and the Princess Anne Library
To learn more, visit www.vbgov.com/eitc or call (757) 385-3551.
Workers should come prepared with the following:
· A valid driver's license or other photo id card.
· Social Security cards, a Social Security number verification letter or the Individual Taxpayer Identifying Number for all persons listed on the return.
· Birthdates for all persons listed on the return.
· All income statements: Forms W-2 and 1099, Social Security, unemployment and other statements, such as pensions, stocks, interest and any documents showing taxes withheld.
· All records of expenses, such as tuition, mortgage interest or real estate taxes.
· Copies of last year's state and federal tax returns, if available.
· Bank routing numbers and account numbers to direct deposit any refund.
· Dependent child care information: name and address of who was paid and the caretaker's Social Security number or other tax identification number.
· Both spouses to sign forms to electronically file a joint tax return.
"EITC is a financial boost for working people and their families, and it allows more funds to flow into our community.” said Lori Irwin, financial empowerment coordinator with Human Services. “It's money that can make lives a little easier. For many low-income families, the tax credit provides one of the few opportunities when low-income households receive a sizable amount of money. Using the refund wisely provides them an opportunity to address current needs and improve their long-term financial situation.”
For tips on getting the most out of the refund, visit America Saves and the Bank On Virginia Beach Program.