Today we heard from our friends at the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) and 211.org. Both organizations are sharing time sensitive and critical information regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
What is the EITC, and why does it matter? The EITC is a tax credit that benefits low (and moderate) income families when they file their taxes. It allows families to keep more of their earned income through a refundable tax return. That money can be used to help pay bills and other necessities.
It is known as “one of the most effective tools for alleviating poverty…When combined with the federal Child Tax Credit, the federal EITC helped lift 129,000 Oregonians, including 65,000 children, out of poverty each year between 2011 and 2013.” (Oregon Center for Public Policy).
According to the OCPP, Oregon families experiencing poverty are missing an opportunity to claim about $130 million per year when they file their taxes at year end. In fact, Oregon has one of the lowest rates of participation in the EITC among tax filers who are eligible. This means that Oregonians that qualify to receive the credit are not necessarily getting it.
So what can you do? Help spread the word about EITC and get folks connected to resources to make sure that they receive the tax credit if they are eligible. Taxes can be confusing, but there are resources available:
- CASH Oregon — Shares information on free tax assistance locations and filing information across the state of Oregon. Learn more about CASH Oregon or search their database for a location near you to find free in-person tax filing assistance.
- The IRS Free File System website includes information on the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program (free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns), and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) (offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors). Find a location near you and learn more!
- AARP Foundation Tax-Aide — Free tax services for everyone, but specializes in taxes for folks who are over 50 years old and have difficulty affording a tax preparation service. Learn more and find a location near you!
Source: Oregon’s Low EITC Participation Leaves Over $100 Million Unclaimed by the Oregon Center for Public Policy (2017).