The Internal Revenue Service and partners nationwide have launched the Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness campaign, aimed at helping millions of Americans who earned $50,270 or less take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The annual campaign is necessary because one-third of the eligible population changes each year as their financial, marital and parental statuses change. Although an estimated four out of five eligible workers and families get the credit, one in five still miss out on it, either because they don't claim it when filing, or don't file a tax return at all.
"A large part of the nation sees major changes every year with their tax situation," said IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller.
The EITC varies by income, family size and filing status. The average EITC amount last year was around $2,200. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov and answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant. In tax year 2011, over 27 million eligible workers and families received nearly $62 billion total in EITC.
Workers, self-employed people and farmers who earned $50,270 or less last year could receive larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC. Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, those eligible may get a refund from the IRS even if they owe no tax.
To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return, even if they are not required to file, and specifically claim the credit. Those eligible for the EITC have free options to file a tax return to claim the credit:
Free File on IRS.gov Free brand-name tax software walks people through a question and answer format to help them prepare their returns and claim every credit and deduction for which they are eligible. The program also allows people to file electronically for free, using Free File Fillable Forms, which are online versions of our paper forms designed for taxpayers comfortable preparing their own returns.
Free tax preparation sites EITC-eligible workers can seek free tax preparation at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest site, taxpayers can search www.IRS.gov or call the IRS at 800-906-9887. Taxpayers can also find VITA/TCE sites by calling their community's 211 or 311 line for local services.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers EITC-eligible workers can seek free assistance in IRS locations across the country. Locations are listed online at www.IRS.gov. Hours and services offered vary by location and should be checked before visiting.
More information on EITC and detailed eligibility rules are available at www.irs.gov/eitc. IRS partners should also visit EITC Central at www.eitc.irs.gov for helpful resources.