One in five taxpayers does not claim a tax credit they’ve earned

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:                                                                 

Stacy Opitz
AccountAbility Minnesota
651-262-2162/Desk
651-329-8227/Cell
sopitz@accountabilitymn.org


Marsha Pitts-Phillips
Greater Twin Cities United Way
612-340-7401/Desk
612-408-7828/Cell
Marsha.Pitts-Phillips@gtcuw.org

One in five taxpayers does not claim a tax credit they’ve earned

January 31 is National Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day – local Claim it! campaign focuses on helping low-income Minnesotans “claim” the credit worth up to more than $6,000. 

(Twin Cities – January 27, 2014) – It’s estimated that one in five taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is not claiming it. Last year through this federal tax credit, low-to moderate-income Minnesota families received an average of $2,000. Claim it!, a statewide awareness campaign, is working to make sure that no taxpayer leaves their credit unclaimed.

Who is eligible for the credit?

To be eligible for the EITC, individuals must have earned income and meet specific guidelines.

“Eligibility for the EITC primarily depends upon the amount of earned income” said Andrea Ferstan, director of System Strategies for Greater Twin Cities United Way. “For example, a married couple filing jointly with three children can earn up to approximately $51,500 a year and still qualify for the credit. Although the credit averages $2,000 per family, some may receive up to $6,044.” She continues, "Similarly, those with no dependents, whether married or single, qualify for the credit; individuals without children who earned below $13,900 or married couples earning less than $19,200. Eligible taxpayers with no dependents can receive credits up to $487; while it’s a smaller amount than what is received by those who have dependents, it is money the taxpayer earned and therefore should claim."

Those who qualify for the EITC will likely be eligible for Minnesota’s version of the credit called the Working Family Credit (WFC). In general the same guidelines apply and the maximum WFC credit is $1,879.

Who’s likely to miss out on the credit?

“People who prepare their own taxes or those not required to file because they believe their income is too low are examples of who is missing out on the credit.” said Tracy Fischman, executive director of AccountAbility Minnesota. “Hardworking individuals and families can’t afford to miss out on money they’ve earned, which is why it’s important to get the word out in multiple ways.”

More than 200 organizations are collaborating with AccountAbility Minnesota and Greater Twin Cities United Way through the Claim it! campaign to increase awareness among low-and moderate-income families. The goal is to ensure all who qualify claim the credit and also know about free tax preparation options.

How can people claim the EITC?

There are more than 250 free tax preparation sites in Minnesota. Most open by Feb. 1 and some sites opened as early as Jan. 23. Free tax preparation services are available to individuals earning $30,000 or less, and families earning $53,000 or less. There are several ways to locate a free tax preparation site: call United Way 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or 651-291-0211 from cell phone or landline; toll-free 1-800-543-7709; or visit www.211unitedway.org/ and www.youclaimit.org.

Taxpayers with an email address also have the option to complete their own taxes for free online at www.myfreetaxes.com/mn. Taxpayers must have earned $58,000 or less in 2013. This can be a convenient and easy method for individuals with no dependents.

“Tax season is incredibly important for so many low-to moderate-income families,” said Fischman. “We call it a ‘money-moment’ at AccountAbility Minnesota because it’s likely the one time of year when people receive a large sum of money that helps to make ends meet and, for some, helps them to get ahead. Connecting people to free tax preparation options means they keep 100 percent of their refund.”

About AccountAbility Minnesota
AccountAbility Minnesota helps hard-working, low-income taxpayers move towards economic security by providing free tax and financial services. The organization was created 41 years ago by a group of social-justice minded accountants committed to ensuring that one’s ability to receive tax assistance – and related financial services – should not depend solely on one’s ability to pay. Over the years, it has expanded its work by integrating access to affordable financial services that promote savings and facilitate access to mainstream financial institutions, by helping to build the capacity of other organizations providing these services, and by utilizing its experiences to advance policies and practices that directly benefit the people it serves. In 2013, AccountAbility Minnesota enlisted the help of more than 569 volunteers who prepared taxes for 13,231 individuals who received a collective $24.3 million in refunds.

About Greater Twin Cities United Way
Greater Twin Cities United Way collaborates with business, government and nonprofit organizations to build pathways out of poverty. We LIVE UNITED to help children succeed, to stabilize families and empower healthy lives. Join our online discussions at www.unitedfrontmn.org, volunteer at United Way Caring Connection or give online at www.gtcuw.org. Greater Twin Cities United Way serves clients in Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott and western Washington counties. For more information, go to www.gtcuw.org or call (612) 340-7400.

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