FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Many May Overlook Valuable Tax Credit
Taxes Prepared for FREE at VITA Sites Throughout the Triangle
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK (January 28, 2011) – Each year, almost three-quarters of Triangle low-income households pay fees of up to $300 in tax preparation costs, or approximately 10-15 percent of their expected return, that could have been done for free by utilizing a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA ) site.
Further, many of these households also fail to claim tax credits designed to provide relief, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). While the average EITC recipient receives $1,700 annually (ranges anywhere from $2 to $5,600), as many as 20 percent of eligible workers do not collect EITC simply because they are not filing for it; and less than 1 percent use a community VITA site.
People move into and out of EITC eligibility based on changes in their earnings, their parental status or their marital status according to Stan Holt, Director of Regional Initiatives at United Way of the Greater Triangle which sponsors the promotion of services available at VITA sites in the Triangle. “Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to economic changes in their incomes.”
Holt encourages anyone who earned $48,362 or less from wages, self-employment or farming in 2010 to see if they qualify. Eligible workers can get their EITC only if they file federal income tax returns – even if they are not otherwise required to file – and specifically claim the credit.
“IRS estimates four out of five eligible workers claim their EITC. We want to raise that to five out of five,” Holt added. “You earned it. Now file, claim it and get it.”
Taxpayers can get free help determining their EITC eligibility and claiming the credit at any of the various Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Most locations also offer free electronic filing. To locate the nearest VITA site in North Carolina, call 877-NC4-EITC.The sites are staffed by IRS trained volunteers.
Last year, United Way’s support resulted in the number of VITA sites increasing by 50% across the region and this resulted in nearly $ 400,000 going to qualifying taxpayers.
To help accurately determine their EITC eligibility and prepare their returns, individuals should bring:
- Photo proof of identification
- Social Security cards for themselves, their spouse and dependents or Social Security number verification letters issued by the Social Security Administration
- Birth dates for all persons listed on the tax return
- Wage and earning statement(s) Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
- Copies of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
- Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit of their refunds
- Other relevant information about income and expenses
- Amounts paid for day care, if applicable and the day care provider’s identifying number.
To electronically file their returns and get the fastest refunds, both spouses must be present to sign joint returns.
“EITC is a financial boost for working people hit by hard economic times. This is money that can make their lives a little easier, especially families with three or more children who get an extra boost with a larger credit this year,” Holt said.
United Way of the Greater Triangle improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. United Way of the Greater Triangle serves Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties by connecting callers to health and human service programs through United Way 2-1-1. To learn more about United Way of the Greater Triangle visit our website: www.unitedwaytriangle.org.