The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for families and individuals who have income from employment. It increases the amount refunded to a taxpayer or reduces the amount of tax owed. You must file a tax return to claim your EITC.
Twenty-eight states, including New Jersey, maintain their own state EITC program. New Jersey taxpayers may receive a credit equal to 37% of their federal credit. It is based on their employment earnings, filing status, number of children and adjusted gross income (AGI).
Income Limits and Maximum EITC Credits
|Number of Qualifying Children
||Single/Head of Household or Widow(er), Income Must be Less Than
||Married Filing Jointly, Income Must be Less Than
||Maximum Federal Credit
||Maximum NJ State Credit
|Three or More Children
Free assistance to prepare and file your federal and state income tax returns are available from a number of organizations and programs, including a United Way listing of New Jersey VITA Sites. You can also access the IRS VITA Site Locator Tool. Free, easy to use online software is available to taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $66,000 or less through the Free File program.
The EITC Assistant is an online tool to help determine if a family may qualify for EITC by answering a number of questions. The IRS also publishes a one page fact sheet, IRS Notice 797 and a forty page booklet on EITC, IRS Publication 596.
Employers, have you told your employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit? If not, distribute copies of IRS Notice 1015. The New Jersey Division of Taxation also publishes a Statement to Employees with helpful links and phone numbers.
Nonprofits, advocacy groups and government agencies can participate in outreach efforts by distributing the Division of Family Development’s NJ 2018 EITC Flyer which is included on their EITC page. Groups interested in conducting an outreach campaign or promoting EITC on social media should subscribe to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign.
Another option is to download IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app. You can use it to check the status of your tax refund or find free tax prepartion services, etc.
Philadelphia Area and South Jersey residents can find free tax site locations by visiting the
Campaign for Working Families website.
Last month New Jersey Legislature leaders tried to pass a partisan gerrymandering bill SCR152/ACR205. Fortunately, a host of public interest groups, organizations and concerned citizens were able to thwart the effort to destabilize fair elections. At a hearing in December, more than 100 progressive individuals testified against the bill. The only supporters were the authors of the bill. The bill was shelved, a win for democracy. In a December 17 press release the League of Women Voters wrote, “They tried to pass these changes quickly and quietly when they thought nobody was paying attention, but we were there to shine a light, to mobilize the opposition, and to ensure voters were educated and their voices were heard. Our work isn’t finished. We now have the opportunity to work collaboratively with legislators and our partners in this fight to advance redistricting reforms that put power in the hands of voters and not politicians.”
This incident in New Jersey should not be treated as an isolated incident. Rather, it should be a reminder that democracy only works when citizens participate. Both Democrats and Republicans cheat the system for their own end. It reminds me of an online lobbying effort I participated in that succeeded in having all New Jersey legislative bills posted on the Internet. During the process one legislator was able to nearly kill the bill. A last-minute amendment on the floor of the State Senate saved the bill. It took a two-year effort to get the reform bill enacted into law. What was learned was to 1) watch a bill every minute because you don’t know what horse-trading will take place and 2) only an overwhelming group of citizen activists can prevail when confronting entrenched power. (Thanks for passage of the Internet bill S1068/A2372 goes to Paul Axel-Lute, a law librarian at Rutgers-Newark, who found a legislator to introduce the bill, to Jim Warren of California who was my mentor in this new area of online lobbying, to the New Jersey Library Association for their political education activities and to Senator Nia Gill of Montclair for rescuing the bill on the floor of the Senate.
If you still need to make a resolution for the New Year you should decide to make your voice heard or join a campaign, but do something to get involved. Perhaps register new voters. Call your elected officials, regularly.
Defending our institutions in these times of political anarchy displayed on Pennsylvania Avenue demands that we stand up. We must be engaged and active in our local communities. Collectively there is power when we work together.