By Tod W. Clayton, Fort Rucker OSJAJanuary 23, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 23, 2012) -- Some people could be eligible to get more money back from the Internal Revenue Service -- as much as $5,751.
People who earned less than $49,078 from wages, self-employment or farming last year may qualify for a refundable tax credit called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. But people must file a federal income tax return claiming the credit to get it.
EITC can be a big financial boost for working people in a recovering economy. Millions of workers who saw their earnings drop in 2011 may qualify for the first time.
The credit has been making the lives of workers a little easier for more than 37 years. Yet it remains little known, possibly because people move into and out of eligibility as their financial, marital and parental statuses change. The IRS estimates four of five eligible workers claim and get their EITC.
Unlike other tax credits, both EITC eligibility and the amount of tax credit people are eligible for is based on several factors. These include, the amount of their income, or combined incomes if married, whether they have qualifying children and how many. Workers without children also may qualify.
Filing status and income limits determine the amount of the credit. People may qualify for EITC even if they had no federal tax withheld or are not otherwise required to file.
The credit is complex, but worth exploring. It's even more valuable if people's states have a corresponding EITC tax credit.
The online EITC Assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc can help determine people's eligibility and estimate the amount of their credit.
Also, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Client Services' Tax Assistance Center offers Fort Rucker people free help preparing their returns.
People who are eligible need to remember they must file a federal income tax return, even if they are not otherwise required to file, and they must specifically claim the credit to get it. Find more information about EITC at www.irs.gov.
According to the IRS, rural and non-traditional families, such as grandparents raising grandchildren, childless workers and non-English speaking taxpayers are among those who most frequently overlook the credit.
For more information, visit the Tax Assistance Center, located in the Soldier Service Center, Rm. 371F, or call 255-2937 or 2938.