The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

February 3, 2013

Are you missing out on tax refund money?

— Many West Virginians could be missing out on thousands of dollars in tax refunds.

An estimated 25 percent of state residents who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are not claiming it on their tax forms, according to the West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families (WVASF).

The IRS describes the Earned Income Tax Credit as a tax credit to help you keep more of what you earned.

“It is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families,” according to www.irs.gov.

So, how does someone qualify for the EITC?

If your earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) meets certain guidelines, you could receive anywhere from $475 to $5,891 in tax credits.

Income and AGI must be less than the following:

— $45,060 with three or more qualifying children ($50,270 married filing jointly)

— $41,952 with two qualifying children ($47,162 married filing jointly)

— $36,920 with one qualifying child ($42,130 married filing jointly)

— $13,980 with no qualifying children ($19,190 married filing jointly)

Income investment must be $3,200 or less for the year.

Jennifer Thacker, executive director of WVASF, said this is a great opportunity for families to have a chance to start saving.

“So many times families just make ends meet. This money could be saved, used for car repairs, home maintenance or even doctor bills.”

She said the majority of families in the state fall into one of these categories and she hopes to see everyone who is eligible take advantage.

The WVASF is the state leader in the EITC outreach campaign, Thacker said.

The Alliance works with VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) to provide free tax services to anyone in the state making less than $51,000 annually.

In 2011, VITA filed 19,800 returns and 4,900 EITC returns, which helped clients claim $28 million worth of federal tax refunds.

Free tax assistance is available at 80 locations across the state. Raleigh County locations include the Raleigh County Community Action Association, 111 Willow Lane, Beckley, and Shady Spring Library, 440 Flat Top Road, Shady Spring. Appointments must be made by calling 304-252-6396 or 304-763-2681, respectively.

A full list of free tax assistance locations can be found at www.wveitc.com

“Many private preparers can charge up to $150, so filing with VITA could save a significant amount of money,” Thacker said.

VITA saved families an estimated $3.9 million in 2011 in tax preparation costs.

The West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families’ mission is to increase access to asset building opportunities and improve economic security for low to moderate income West Virginia families.

The organization currently focuses on asset development, financial literacy, and economic sustainability.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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