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Working families urged to claim tax credit

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This tax season, the Tennessee Department of Human Services is again calling on eligible working individuals and families across the state to take advantage of a federal tax credit that can put earned income back into their pockets.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, launched in the mid-1970s, is considered to be one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country.

For 2009, nearly $1.5 billion was returned to 653,521 Tennessee recipients — an average of $2,281 per household, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the program.

However, the department estimates that between 20-25 percent of Americans who qualify for the tax credit do not claim it.

“The EITC is a benefit from the federal government that’s designed to reduce the tax burden on low-income families, supplement wages, and encourage people to work,” said DHS Commissioner Raquel Hatter.

“We especially want to reach these folks before they file their 2010 tax returns so they can take advantage of these free tax preparation services.”

DHS is a partner in the program, joining the IRS, United Way’s 2-1-1 information line, and the Tennessee Alliance for Financial Independence in urging those eligible to get free tax help by visiting Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites across the state.

To qualify, both earned income and adjusted gross income for 2010 must be less than:

• $13,460 ($18,470 if married filing jointly) with no qualifying child

• $35,535 ($40,545 if married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

• $40,363 ($45,373 if married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

• $43,352 ($48,362 if married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

In advance of an official EITC Awareness Day on Jan. 28, more than 275,000 letters already have been mass-mailed to households with earned income for 2010 to alert those who may be eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit.

Also this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide a temporary increase for taxpayers with three
or more qualifying children.

More information is available by calling 2-1-1 or at www.tnafi.org.

For VITA locations, call toll free at 1-866-311-4287.

To learn more about all DHS programs, visit www.tn.gov/humanserv.