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Earned income tax credit puts money in your pocket

HAMBURG — Guest column submitted by Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

If you worked in the past year and earned $52,000 or less, you can get your taxes filed for free and you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Everyone who qualifies should take advantage of the tax credits available to them. That is why I am pleased that the Erie County clerk’s office is once again partnering with the United Way Creating Assets, Savings and Hope Program, to assist taxpayers with filing accurate state and federal returns. All of the credits have one thing in common: You cannot receive them if you do not file your tax return; a tax credit puts extra money in your pocket.

Let the United Way CASH Program help you navigate through the somewhat confusing aspects of tax preparation, including applying for the EITC. The CASH Program increases the stability of low-income families by opening access to tax credits and other benefit programs and offering free tax preparation services to help working families and individuals file tax returns.

The EITC is a federal tax benefit created by the federal government in 1975 for working people who earn low to moderate incomes. It is a refundable credit that reduces or eliminates income taxes owed and helps individuals keep more of what they earn.

If the amount of tax credit for which the worker qualifies is more than the taxes owed, the worker will receive the difference as a cash refund.

To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. You must have worked in 2013, meet the income limits and have one or more qualifying children, or be between the ages of 25 and 65, without a child.

The EITC can contribute a substantial amount of money to families who are struggling to make ends meet; as much as $6,044, depending on the size of the family.

More than 27 million eligible individuals and families have received nearly $62 billion in EITC. Those EITC dollars had a significant impact on the lives and communities of the nation’s lowest-paid working people. The Internal Revenue Service reported that the EITC has helped bring more than 6 million people – half of them children – above the poverty line.

It is not too late to apply for the 2013 Earned Income Tax Credit; the filing deadline is April 15. If you think you may qualify and you require additional information, visit www.erie.gov/clerk/taxprep or contact the United Way CASH Program directly, by calling 211.
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