The Importance of the Earned Income Tax Credit

Advocates and supporters joined at the United Way Friday morning in an effort to spread awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) available to low-income working individuals.

Mayor Emily Larson said if you’re eligible, and you claim this tax credit – it leads to more economic stability for families and also the community. She added that when one receives this tax credit, the money generally goes back into the economy. When someone is low income, the EITC can give back up to around $5,000 if they have three or more children.

“For many who claim this credit, the money ends up being used to purchase things they can’t normally afford, such as a vehicle, a down payment on a home, repairs, etc.,” said Angie Miller, executive director of Community Action Duluth.“So not only does this refund benefit the individual receiving it, it also benefits local businesses and our economy when the money is spent.”Miller mentioned that, unfortunately, only 1 out of 5 taxpayers who qualify for the EITC claim it because so many people don’t know about it.

Congressman Rick Nolan said the EITC is a federal tax credit, it’s not welfare, and this is money that was earned.“On average, those who qualify end up getting back about $2,210 each year,” he said in a video presentation.He suggested that people should, “call your local officials and advocate for this credit.”Nolan added that those who don’t have children get far less than those who do, only about $500 per year.

Community Action Duluth has 90 volunteers who offer their time to participate in the Free Tax Site program, beginning Jan. 28 at 8:30 a.m. to assist those who qualify with tax preparation. The last day to get in and find assistance is April 17.All volunteers must go through a training course and pass a test to qualify as a tax preparer. Those who don’t qualify include:Persons age 21-24 who don’t have children Persons who didn’t work that year Families and individuals who earned more than $56,000 annually Days and times available to get help:Mondays: Doors open at 4:30 p.m.Tuesdays: Doors open at 4:30 p.m.Saturdays: Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

A local woman, Corisa Thom, shared her story at the news conference. At the age of 26, her mother passed. She was then responsible for her 15, 18 and 20-year-old younger brothers as well as her 3-year-old nephew.“You can’t give up when you have other people depending on you,” said Thom. She went to Community Action and received help with tax preparation and found she was eligible for the EITC, which, year by year, slowly helped her get her family in a better, much more comfortable place.“First, we were able to get a vehicle. Then, I put away some emergency savings. After that, I bought a three-bedroom home. One year, it even helped me to add a bedroom so my nephew could have his own,” she explained.Those who go to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to get help generally receive 94 percent more on their return than if they had prepared their taxes themselves.