EITC Awareness Day

January 29, 2021 marks the 15th time the Internal Revenue Service has publicized EITC Awareness Day. It is a day when various organizations try to spread the word about a tax program of importance to working people.

Here are a few numbers worth thinking about.

78 percent of households claim the Earned Income Tax Credit when they file their federal taxes. EITC is a credit that increases your tax refund or reduces what you owe Uncle Sam. 78% also means that 22% don’t claim the EITC.

2300 dollars is a typical Federal EITC refund for families in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

58,000 young workers in New Jersey will be able to take advantage of the New Jersey EITC for the first time when filing their 2020 tax return. New Jersey expanded their program by lowering the age requirement from 25 years to 21.

65,000,000,000 dollars – $65 billion – is about the amount received by 25 million eligible workers and families in EITC, according to IRS statistics.

Millions did not receive a stimulus check in 2020. The 2020 tax form has been redesigned for those who missed out. People who did not get an Economic Impact Payment may be eligible for a Recovery Rebate Credit. For details, please read the article, “What do I do if I didn’t get my first or second stimulus checks?” by Christine Tran of the 2020 Get It Back Campaign. See the IRS page for more questions and answers about the Recovery Rebate Credit, especially for those who did not file a tax return last year.

Often overlooked are a number of programs available to help taxpayers file tax returns free. These programs include: MyFreeTaxes, a joint partnership of United Way and H&R Block; Free File through the IRS. (A word of caution, to use Free File at $0 cost go through the IRS portal, not at a tax preparation company’s website.) Be sure to check your household income and the free programs income requirements.

Free tax counseling and tax filing is available through the VITA or TCE programs, short for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly. This year, some VITA/TCE sites are not operating at full capacity and others are not opening. To locate an open site near you, use the VITA/TCE Locator Tool or the AARP Site Locator Tool.

Additional information is available on this website’s Earned Income Tax Credit page.

EITC Awareness Day

Once a year at the end of January the Internal Revenue Services and its partners do a one day media event to advertise the Earned Income Tax Credit program, a tax program that has been around since the Nixon Administration. Today, January 27, 2017, is another EITC Awareness Day.

The good points about EITC are that it provides tax relief for low and moderate income working families. The IRS even encourages people to take advantage of it. They partner with software companies to make tax filing free to many households. Checkout Free File. EITC tax refunds lift millions out of poverty and make life a little easier.

The bad news is that one out of five households do not take advantage by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. In New Jersey, an estimated 197,000 taxpayers are losing out of an average EITC refund totaling approximately $2350. Do the math – unclaimed tax refunds equal to $462 million. To make matters worse, New Jersey once was recognized as a leader of EITC but now has sunk to near bottom, 45th among 50 states, in the EITC participation rate ranking. See https://www.eitc.irs.gov/EITC-Central/Participation-Rate.

Here are a few tips. To find a free tax preparation site (generally if you make $54,000 a year or less) visit either NJ 2-1-1 Partnership’s NJ VITA Sites or IRS Get Free Tax Prep Help Page or the AARP Tax-Aide Locator.

To first find out if you qualify, visit the EITC Assistant. By answering all the questions you can find out if you are eligible for EITC. The tool also provides an estimate of the amount of your credit.

Employers have a responsibility to let their workers know about this program. They should be distributing a notice titled, “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?” Ask your employer to runoff copies and attach it to W-2 statements.

There are a number of web sites useful to IRS partners, employers, government agencies/offices and nonprofits. These website provide outreach material, flyers and other social media tools. They include: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign and EITC Central. County welfare agencies and One Stop Career Centers distribute the Division of Family Development’s 2016 EITC Fact Sheet.

EITC Awareness Day – can you afford to do without it?

Other useful tax preparation assistance information is available at the NJ Community Resources website.

EITC Awareness Day – January 25, 2013

EITC Awareness Day is a one-day blitz for mainstream and social media to reach the broadest possible range of potentially eligible taxpayers. In 2012, 26.5 million low and moderate income households received $60.7 billion under the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked and had income under $50,270 find out if your are eligible for EITC.

There are a number of contact points to determine if you qualify. They include calling the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040 or the New Jersey Division of Taxation at 888-895-9179. In New Jersey you can call the 2-1-1 Partnership by dialing 2-1-1 or 877-652-1148 to get free help filing your taxes.

Free help in preparing your tax return – you can claim EITC even if you had nothing withheld from your paycheck – is available through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide or at Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout New Jersey and nationwide. The 2-1-1 Partnership maintains a list of VITA and AARP Tax Assistance Sites in New Jersey.

Also, a number of organizations in and near New Jersey promote EITC and provide free tax preparation service to qualifying individuals and families. They are:
Mercer County CASH Campaign
Newark Now
New Jersey Citizen Action
Our neighbors in Philadelphia can also contact either Ceiba or Campaign for Working Families.

Nonprofit organizations that wish to become actively involved in promoting EITC should contact either the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or the National Community Tax Coalition.

Additional details and web links are available on New Jersey Community Resources website on the Earned Income Tax Credit page.

To claim your EITC tax credit you must file a tax return.