Today, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) sponsored and organized two town hall meetings to inform tax filers about the Earned Income Tax Credit, also known as EITC. Attendees met with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) representatives and tax preparation specialists who assisted them with filing their 2009 tax returns.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. It was originally approved by Congress in 1975 to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund. To qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a taxpayer must have earned income from employment, self-employment or another source.
"It can really help low to moderate income families by giving them a tax credit, which can either reduce their tax liability or increase their tax refund. In turn, families can use their refundable credit to not only purchase food, clothing and shelter, but to also meet their healthcare and educational needs," said Congressman Al Green.
Congressman Al Green added that, "One of the key features of EITC is that it has no effect on certain benefits, making it appealing to families and individuals." In most cases, EITC payments will not be used to determine eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, low-income housing or most Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments.
"It is a very useful resource for working parents and it can add up to $5,657 on a family's income tax refund. From my experience, EITC provides a much-needed infusion of cash for parents raising children and earning less than 50,000 a year," commented Elizabeth Colvin, director of the Houston office of Neighborhood Tax Centers, one of many organizations that participated in the town hall meeting.
According to data from the IRS, since 2002 the number of tax returns claiming EITC has surpassed 20 million every year. These returns resulted in refunds of $36.9 billion in 2002 and have progressively increased to $49.3 billion in 2008. However, in Houston alone, it is estimated that working families lose between $15 and $35 million in unclaimed EITC dollars, which prompted Congressman Al Green to explain that, "You cannot get the benefit if you do not file for it."