EITC benefits often go unclaimed, IRS says

Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011

Officers of the Internal Revenue Service held a teleconference on Friday in commemoration of the fifth Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness (EITC) Day.

EITCs are refundable credits designed to award extra benefits to qualifying individuals who make low to moderate incomes. The amount a taxpayer can receive varies by income, number of children and other factors.

The maximum credit for 2010 is $5,666 for qualifying workers with three or more children. However, workers without qualifying children may also be eligible for smaller credits.

Cecille Jones, IRS deputy director of electronic tax administration and refundable credits, said people without children may still qualify, but are often not aware of the credit and fail to apply. This can include older taxpayers or those with assumed care roles.

Those who earned less than $48,362 in 2010 may be eligible for larger refunds. IRS Director of Earned Income Tax Credit Program Verlinda Paul said incomes must come from wages, self-employment or farm income.

Jones said four out of five eligible taxpayers claimed the EITC last year. A press release states the average award was an extra $2,200.

Jones emphasized the credits can only be obtained by those who worked in 2010, saying they are not welfare.

More information on the credits and qualifications are at www.irs.gov/eitc.

The IRS reports in 2009, Alaska had a total EITC amount of $92.6 million with 48,440 recipients. There were 1,283 returns in Juneau, totaling $2 million.

Paul said that more first-time EITC applicants are expected this year because of high turnover rates left over from the recession.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created a new EITC category of families with three or more children and increased the maximum benefit for 2009 and 2010. The Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended these changes through 2012.

“Millions of workers who did not earn high incomes claimed the EITC last year,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in the release. “The IRS encourages all eligible taxpayers to claim this valuable credit. Together with our partners, we can help taxpayers file their returns and get the EITC.”

EITCs were originally approved by Congress in 1975.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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