Last year, almost $12 million was given to St. Charles Parish residents who claimed an earned income tax credit.
This year, larger families will qualify for a larger credit, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The earned income tax credit is in its 35th year, and is one of the federal government’s largest benefit programs for working families and individuals. Last year, nearly 24 million people received $50 billion in benefits, with the average credit received equaling more than $2,000.
For tax years 2009 and 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a new category for families with three or more children and also expanded the maximum benefits for this category.
“As part of the economic recovery efforts, there have been important changes to expand EITC to benefit tax payers,” Dee Harris, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans IRS office, said. “Today, more than ever, hard-working individuals and families can use a little extra help.
“EITC can make the lives of working people a little easier.”
To qualify for the EITC, earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) for individuals must each be less than:
•$43,279 ($48,279 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
•$40,295 ($45,295 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
•$35,463 ($40,463 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
•$13,440 ($18,440 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children
The maximum credit for tax year 2009 is:
•$5,657 with three or more qualifying children
•$5,028 with two qualifying children
•$3,043 with one qualifying child
•$457 with no qualifying children
Historically, one in four eligible taxpayers fails to claim the EITC, which is why the IRS and its free tax preparation partners host an annual EITC Awareness Day. This year, there are 68 news conferences being held around the country.
Community coalitions and IRS partners nationwide also are also issuing 128 news releases, writing letters to the editor and using social media tools to spread the word about EITC.
Typically, people who fail to claim the EITC include workers without qualifying children, people whose earned income falls below the threshold required to file a tax return, farmers, rural residents, people with disabilities and nontraditional families such as grandparents raising grandchildren. People must file a tax return to claim the EITC.
Free help is available to EITC-eligible taxpayers. There are nearly 12,000 free tax preparation sites nationwide. People who want to prepare their own tax returns can visit Free File on IRS.gov. This free tax software and free electronic filing program will walk taxpayers through a question and answer format and help them claim the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible.