Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day declared in Millvale
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 12:01 AM
Brian Spoales, mayor of Millvale, declared Jan. 31 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day in the borough as “an opportunity to encourage citizens to find out if they can claim this important tax credit.”
The date was the 14th anniversary of a national awareness campaign to increase EITC familiarity.
In 2019, 890,000 Pennsylvanians received more than $2 billion in EITC refunds. The average credit was $2,295.
According to the IRS, if you worked last year and earned less than $55,952, you may be eligible for the EITC. If you have qualifying children, you could receive a refund up to $6,557. Workers without qualifying children may qualify for up to $529.
“The IRS estimates that four out of five workers claim the EITC they earned. This leaves billions of dollars on the table each year. We want to get the word out to those who are eligible to file a tax return even if they don’t owe any tax to claim the EITC. It’s money workers can use for groceries, rent, utilities and other bills,” according to an IRS news release.
Jacqlyn Boggs, North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) Millvale outreach manager, aims to change common EITC misconceptions. Through the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Free Tax Prep Program, NHCO offers free tax preparation at its Millvale and Bellevue sites to low-income families. Just Harvest, a nonprofit addressing hunger in Allegheny County, provides technical support and training.
Boggs said people think that the credit is only for families with children and the unemployed. Rather, people without children also qualify for the credit, and recipients actually need to have earned certain disability income or employment earnings.
Boggs said surveys indicate that families typically put the credit toward their savings, bills, transportation expenses, rent and food. One NHCO client purchased a laptop for his daughter to use for schoolwork, she said.
“For some families, it’s very large refunds,” Boggs said.
NHCO offers free tax preparation appointments to qualified taxpayers with incomes up to $55,000. In the 2018 tax year, 28 IRS-certified NHCO volunteers prepared 448 federal returns, according to resource coordinator Melissa Mason. Those returns netted refunds of $580,623, including EITC of $211,113.
Mason’s goals for the 2019 tax year are for 23 volunteers to prepare 525 federal returns.
Appointments are available at the following times and locations: North Boroughs Site — Greenstone Methodist Church 939 California Ave. Bellevue, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through April 15. Millvale — 416 Lincoln Ave. 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays through April 4.
To schedule an appointment, which is required for the tax preparation, call the United Way at 211 or 1-888-856-2773.
Families with household incomes up to $66,000 can self-file for free through myfree taxes.com.
Boggs said that while NHCO encourages clients to use their banks to direct deposit their tax refunds, they also offer PNC debit cards to people lacking bank accounts.
For more information, use the IRS EITC Assistant, irs.gov/credits-deductions/ individuals/earned-income-tax-credit/use-the-eitc-assistant.