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Millions of Working Families Could Overlook Valuable Tax Credit
Free Tax Assistance Available to Help Low-Income Portage County Residents Claim Their Full Refunds

EITC Awareness Day is Friday, January 27th

Millions of workers could overlook an important federal tax credit because they simply don’t know about it. As a result, they could miss out on up to $5,751 extra in their federal income tax refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC.

“This money can make a real difference to workers, particularly when they’re struggling in this recovering economy,” said Patti Cahill, Director of Community Impact with United Way of Portage County.

The EITC is one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs. It annually lifts 6.6 million people out of poverty, half of them children. The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying low-wage workers and their families. Anyone earning $49,078 or less from wages, self-employment or farming in 2011 could qualify. Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their income, their marital status or parental status, according to the IRS. Yet the agency estimates only four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC.

“We want to raise the number to five out of five,” Cahill said. “United Way of Portage County has partnered with CAP Services and Mid-State Technical College to offer a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for eligible Portage County residents to receive free tax preparation assistance. AARP also offers free tax preparation at the Lincoln Center and Library. In addition to free tax preparation, Energy Assistance is conducting outreach in conjunction with the tax service at the Mid-State Technical College on Tuesdays and at the Lincoln Center on Fridays throughout the tax season.

To see if you are eligible for free tax preparation and to make an appointment, call United Way’s free and confidential community help line 2-1-1.