Today Is EITC Awareness Day

Today is EITC Awareness Day, a day to promote a program of benefit to working families and individuals.

EITC is a tax program although it acts very much like a safety-net program. It puts over $1 billion in the hands (or checking account) of New Jersey residents each year. However, it needs publicity every year, too. About 25% of state residents do not taken advantage of the program at tax time, even though the average EITC tax credit is more than $2,000.

This year the Earned Income Tax Credit page of the New Jersey Community Resources website has had a major revamping. Easy to find links are listed below. Please do what you can to spread the word about EITC to working families, constituents, and co-workers.

Find a Location for Free Tax Help
NJ Free Tax Assistance Locations
Free Tax Site Locations in South Jersey and Philadelphia Area
EITCoutreach.org’s Get It Back Campaign
IRS’ EITC Assistant
MyFreeTaxes
Free File
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
IRS Publication 596
Notice 1015 – “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?”
IRS Notice 797 – “Possible Federal Tax Refund Due to the Earned Income Credit (EIC)”
IRS2Go
NJ EITC Page
NJ Statement to Employees
NJ EITC Informational Flyer

2019 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Information

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. For 2018, 576,000 filers in New Jersey were able to be credited $1.4billion with an average tax refund of $2,360. However, almost 25% of eligible New Jersey taxpayers never file for EITC. You must file a tax return to claim your EITC.

Twenty-nine states, including New Jersey, maintain their own EITC program. New Jersey taxpayers may receive a credit equal to 39% 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
No Child $15,570 $21,370 $529 $206
One Child $41,094 $46,884 $3,526 $1,375
Two Children $46,703 $52,493 $5,828 $2,273
Three or More Children $50,162 $55,952 $6,557 $2,557

The EITC Assistant is an online tool to estimate if an individual or family may qualify by answering a number of questions. The IRS also publishes a one page fact sheet, IRS Notice 797 and a more detailed booklet, IRS Publication 596.

Free assistance to prepare and file your federal income tax return is available from a number of organizations and programs. The United Way and H&R Block partner to offer MyFreeTaxes. All income levels are eligible to file both federal and state returns for free using MyFreeTaxes.com. Also available is Free File another free, easy to use online software program. Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $69,000 and below are eligible. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program offers free tax preparation to low and moderate-income taxpayers, especially age 50 and older.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. Most VITA and TCE sites are open February to April.

The IRS provides a Find a Location for Free Tax Help page. The NJ 2-1-1 Partnership maintains a NJ Free Tax Assistance Locations page. South Jersey residents in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland Counties, as well as residents in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, can get tax preparation help from the non-profit Campaign for Working Families.

Non-profits, advocacy groups and government agencies can participate in outreach efforts by promoting the NJEITC page and their NJEITC Informational Flyer. 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.

Employers are encouraged to distribute copies of “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?”, available as Notice 1015 by the IRS. The New Jersey Division of Taxation publishes a Statement to Employees.

Smartphone users can download IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app. You can use it to check your tax refund status or find free tax prepartion services, or even to send a payment to Uncle Sam.

EITC, Vita Sites And Free File

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
No Child $15,270 $20,950 $519 $192
One Child $40,320 $46,010 $3,461 $1,281
Two Children $45,802 $51,492 $5,716 $2,115
Three or More Children $49,194 $54,884 $6,431 $2,380

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.

How To Respond

The text below was actually an email sent yesterday by Beto O’Rourke, the Congressman from El Paso, Texas who nearly won a U.S. Senate seat. It is worth reading in light of the recent tear gas assault on refugees on our southern border.

We have learned by speaking with one voice change is possible. The 2018 election proved that. We can make a difference by making a gift to organizations that support immigrants. Listed below are a couple organizations you can contribute to during this holiday season.

Email text from Beto O’Rourke:

It should tell us something about her home country that a mother is willing to travel 2,000 miles with her 4-month-old son to come here. Should tell us something about our country that we only respond to this desperate need once she is at our border. So far, in this administration, that response has included taking kids from their parents, locking them up in cages, and now tear gassing them at the border.

People are leaving violent countries where they fear for their lives. Without money, they are subsisting on hope for their kids, for themselves, that they can get to safety. After being denied the ability to lawfully petition for asylum for the last 10 days, they are desperate.

We choose how to respond to this challenge.

Let’s do this the right way and follow our own laws. Allow asylum seekers to petition for asylum at our ports of entry. They must do so peacefully and follow our laws; but we must also ensure the capacity to effectively and timely process those claims (right now 5,000 waiting in Tijuana and only 40 to 100 are processed a day).

Those who have a credible fear of returning to their home country (as determined by a U.S. judge) will be able stay until their full asylum request has been determined. Those applicants ultimately granted asylum will then live in the U.S., make us a better country for being here, and those who are not granted asylum will be returned to their home country.

Longer term: work with the people of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to address underlying conditions that are causing them to flee in the first place. That means addressing effects of our failed past involvement in those countries (in their civil wars, drug trade and drug wars) and the institutional failings in those countries (rule of law).

It won’t be easy and will involve a much greater investment of time, focus and resources. Or we can continue to ignore those countries and their people until they show up at our border.

– Beto

Consider a gift to:
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition or New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Remember, today is #GivingTuesday.