Agencies urge working families to use tax credit


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:44 p.m.

Facts

Free tax assistance sites:

  • Northgate Shopping Plaza, 1130 NE 16th Ave. 4-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays 10 a.m.6 p.m. Saturdays
  • Eden Park at Ironwood, 1330 NE 39th Ave. 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays First and third Saturdays by appointment
  • Santa Fe Community College, 3000 NW 83rd St.
    10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays,
  • UF Levin School of Law VITA, SW 2nd Avenue and 25th Street
    5-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,

  • Low- to moderate-income working families evidently overlook a special tax credit that could ease their annual income tax payments - or even earn them up to $4,400 in refunds.
    A nationwide initiative set in motion this month is raising awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC - sometimes shortened to Earned Income Credit, or EIC). Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation and Workforce Florida Inc. as well as the HR Florida State Council are leading to raise awareness among employers in this state.
    According to the IRS, as much as $635 million goes unclaimed by the estimated 350,000-plus working families and individuals in Florida who are not taking advantage of the EITC.
    Odetta MacLeish-White, chair of the Heart of Florida Prosperity Campaign, said there was $8 million in unclaimed tax credits by Alachua County workers in 2002, the last year figures were available.
    EITC was enacted in 1975 in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to provide an incentive to work, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. Its net effect is employees can boost their wages through no additional cost to businesses, FAWI said. Local communities then benefit by additional consumer activity.
    The amount of tax credit, or even a refund, is on a sliding scale, said According to Gloria Sutton, a spokeswoman for the IRS' district office in Jacksonville. IRS spokeswoman Gloria Sutton said a working married couple filing jointly, with two children, can earn a maximum of $37,263 adjusted gross income to be eligible for a $4,400 credit. A married working couple filing jointly with one child can earn $33,030 to be eligible for a maximum of $2,662 tax credit. Refunds are given after the income tax amount due is satisfied.
    But workers must file an income tax form - either 1040 or 1040A - in order to be eligible for the credit, even if they do not owe any income taxes, Sutton said. Eligible taxpayers can file retroactively for EITC for the years 2003 and 2004, said MacLeish-White.
    IRS has set up partners around the state to offer free tax assistance for people who think they may be eligible for the credit or refund. By using electronic filing, math is checked and eligibility is verified. Filing electronically speeds up the process, said Sutton. "If (people) elect direct deposit of any money coming back to them, it will be in their hands in half the time of a paper check being mailed. Sometimes it's as fast as 10 days."
    For information, call the IRS toll-free at (800) 829-1040, or visit one of the free local tax preparation sites set up for this purpose.
    Marina Blomberg can be reached at (352) 374-5025 or business@gvillesun.com

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