05 March 2008

More than 100 Cities Helping Families Claim Earned Income Tax Credit

by Sarah Bainton Kahn

As families throughout the country file their tax returns, city leaders are hosting campaign kickoff events to alert low-income working families about their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Local elected officials in more than 100 cities and towns are taking part in these campaigns, in partnership with coalitions composed of local United Way of America organizations, financial institutions and other businesses, universities, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), chambers of commerce and nonprofit community organizations. Campaign kickoff events have included news conferences, announcement of new services and products, and speeches by local officials.

About the EITC
The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit that benefits low-income working families and also brings federal dollars back into the community. Often cited as the nation’s most effective federal anti-poverty program, the IRS estimates that EITC returns brought $30.4 billion to more than 19 million families in 2007. For a family of four, taxpayers must earn less than $39,783 to claim the EITC, and the maximum refund would be $4,716.

In addition to raising awareness about the EITC, outreach campaigns inform residents about free tax preparation services, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. City officials can be instrumental in offering space for VITA sites, recruiting tax preparation volunteers and increasing the visibility of campaign efforts.

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