A Tax Break for Working People
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).
|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||$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)?”, IRS Notice 1015. 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, find free tax prepartion services, or even send a payment to Uncle Sam.
Last updated: January 28, 2020
Copyright © 2020 by Michael R. Swayze