Tax credit that paid $12.2M to parish residents in '08 often goes unclaimed
More than 4,900 low-to-moderate-income workers in St. Charles Parish pocketed over $12.2 million last year at tax time thanks to a credit that often goes unclaimed.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax break for those that worked some part of the last year and have a household income less than $41,646. The maximum amount that residents can receive back is $4,824, and the IRS estimates that 20 to 25 percent of those eligible for EITC, fail to claim it.
“Lower income folks may not be legally required to file a return, and you must file to get EITC,” Dee Harris, of the New Orleans IRS office, said. “Others may not claim EITC because they assume that since they paid little or no taxes, they will get nothing back if they file. With EITC though, they still may qualify for a refund.”
Harris said that this year, even more residents may miss out on EITC because they have never been eligible for it before and don’t know about it. Plus, the credit could be more important this year than ever before because more workers may qualify due to reduced incomes.
“The average EITC amount is $2,000,” Harris said. “People who live in rural areas, people with disabilities, older Americans raising grandchildren, childless workers and people who normally don’t have a filing requirement are among those who often miss out.”
The EITC is a “refundable” credit, meaning it will pay off any taxes. Plus, if the EITC exceeds the taxes you owe, the remainder of the credit will be sent to you as a refund. If no taxes are due, the entire credit is refunded.
Generally, to qualify for EITC a person must file a federal tax return and attach Schedule EIC. If you e-file, the tax software calculates the credit for you, so there’s no extra form to fill out.
Also, to qualify for EITC, there is a limit on investment income - you cannot have received more than $2,950 last year. And filers with no children must be over the age of 24 and under 65.
Married couples with at least two children get the highest EITC, up to $4,824. Single filers and those with fewer or no qualifying children are eligible for a lesser amount.
The IRS offers help both online and in-person with claiming EITC. Visit www.IRS.gov and use the EITC Assistant as a quick self-test of eligibility or visit one of the free tax help sites in Louisiana that will be open through April 15.
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