Big tax refunds ($5K!) for low dollar earners go unclaimed in Washington

Big tax refunds ($5K!) for low dollar earners go unclaimed in Washington
DEPT. OF COMMERCE NEWS RELEASE– The state is urging you to apply for your share of millions in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) money available to eligible families and individuals from the Internal Revenue Service. Gov. Chris Gregoire proclaimed Friday, Jan. 27, “Earned Income Tax Credit Day” to help raise awareness of this federal program.

The program goes unused by about 20 percent of qualified workers entitled to receive a check for up to $5,751. Millions could go unclaimed by Washington residents eligible for the credit.

Thousands of working families and individuals in Washington fail to apply for the credit each year, missing out on their share of the money. Seniors, individuals with low incomes, and non-English speaking tax payers account for much of the unclaimed credits because they don’t realize they are eligible. Last year, 426,124 people applied for the credit, bringing about $847 million into the state’s economy.

The Washington State Department of Commerce and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Economic Services are teaming up with the IRS, AARP Tax Aide, Community Action agencies, Asset Coalitions, Employment Security, Department of Agriculture, United Way agencies, and Washington State Libraries to remind people that they must file a 2011 federal income tax return to receive the EITC – even if they owe no tax. Communities throughout Washington are taking part in national Earned Income Tax Credit Day to promote the tax credit.

Groups promoting the EITC have a simple message: It’s money you’ve already earned – file it, claim it and get it. Any individual or couple who worked in 2011 should file for the EITC. The amount of the credit depends on family size and gross income. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a temporary increase in EITC for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children. This increase was extended for 2011 and 2012 by the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010.

EITC eligibility requirements are:
• With three or more qualifying children, income less than $43,998 or $49,078 if married filing jointly. Maximum refund: $5,751
• With two qualifying children, income less than $40,964 or $46,044 if married filing jointly. Maximum refund: $5,112
• With one qualifying child, income less than $36,052 or $41,132 if married filing jointly. Maximum refund: $3,094
• With no children, income less than $13,660 or $18,740 if married filing jointly. Maximum refund: $464

*FREE* tax preparation services are available to low- and moderate-income families now through April 17. Washington Information Network 211 will provide a directory of site locations throughout the state – just dial 2-1-1 and ask for “free tax preparation,” and an operator will provide you with free tax site locations and hours in your area. Or visit irs.gov.