Every year, millions of American families leave it untouched and on the table. I’m not talking about mom’s leftover meatloaf or brussel sprouts. I’m referring to billions of unclaimed dollars through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working households.
When taxpayers don’t take advantage of EITC, everyone suffers. And I mean everyone. When these dollars don’t reach the pockets of hardworking families, the money fails to make it into the revenue stream of our communities, our states and our country. That stifles small business sales and job creation and potentially limits individual economic security and opportunity.
How EITC Works
This video (link) explains what EITC is, who qualifies and why it’s important. Or, from the New America Foundation: An individual must have earned income, be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and have a valid social security number. For tax year 2009, a qualified claimant may have investment income of less than $3,100 and a maximum annual earned income of varying levels based on the number of qualifying children. Confused, don’t be; watch the video!
The federal EITC benefit for the 2009 tax year ranges from $5,657 for families with three children to $457 for individuals or couples without children.
Sounds easy enough. Yet sadly, new research by the New America Foundation shows that in California alone, as many as 800,000 eligible Californians alone are not claiming EITC and leaving more than $1.2 billion dollars on the table. That’s a lot of money!
What you can do
There are two ways to break down the barriers and help yourself and other hard working people get the money they deserve.
- Check out WEb Connector (it’s free!). Intuit and the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation have partnered with California First Lady Maria Shriver’s WE Connect campaign to connect citizens to numerous money-saving programs and help them take advantage of unclaimed state and federal dollars. As part of the partnership, Intuit created and donated the WEb Connector, a free online tool in English and Spanish. Modeled after Intuit’s own TurboTax technology, WEb Connector easily guides people through a few questions and helps them learn if they might be eligible for federal and state programs (like EITC) that can put more money in their pockets, and how to apply for these programs.
- Attend an upcoming event in California. Encourage your co-workers, friends and family to learn more about EITC and other money-saving programs. Attend a WE Connect Weekend in Fresno (March 19 – 21) or Los Angeles (March 26 – 28) that bring together local, state and federal public and private resources all in one place.
Together, we can make a difference, put money in the pockets of those who need it the most, and boost our economy.