Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day on Jan. 29

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Provided by United Way of the National Capital Area

United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) and the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) are offering free and virtual tax preparation services to residents as they kick off the tax season on Jan. 29, which is “EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day.”

The EITC, one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs, is a refundable tax credit that benefits more than 20 million low to moderate income Americans (earning no more than $56,000) each tax season. Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on unemployment, loss of income and business closures, more individuals will qualify for the EITC—and more than ever, they will need free tax services to help navigate their EITC. That’s why United Way NCA and DISB are providing free and virtual tax preparation services to encourage DMV residents to #GetItBackInTheDMV.

The services are available through United Way NCA’s network of Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs), including a new Montgomery County location managed by CAFE (Coalition for the Advancement of Financial Education) Montgomery—opening soon but available virtually—as well as several partner IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program sites throughout the DC Metro area.

“Each tax season, approximately 80 percent of qualifying residents claim their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which could add up to a $2,400 tax refund,” said Rosie Allen-Herring, President & CEO, United Way of the National Capital Area. “There are still many who don’t claim these credits, as well as people who have not filed taxes in the past who qualify. Given the fact that many of our residents suffered a significant loss of income due to COVID, it’s important for every resident to get all the dollars they qualify for to receive as a tax refund. We’ve invested in these IRS-trained professionals to help residents determine eligibility and to receive free tax preparation services. During these unprecedented times, these much-needed funds help to pay off debt or make investments that build generational wealth that can transform the future of their families.”

United Way NCA, DISB, the IRS and its partners are leading a regional coalition of partners working on free tax preparation services. Trained and qualified IRS tax professionals are available to work with individuals to determine if they qualify for the EITC as well as the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and help them claim these tax credits, which can earn them a larger tax refund.

“In collaboration with United Way NCA and supporting partners, our goal is to make sure 100 percent of qualifying residents receive their EITC and a larger tax refund,” said Karima Woods, DISB Commissioner. “We also want to encourage unbanked residents receiving refunds to use this opportunity to access one of the many affordable banking options throughout the region and avoid unnecessary fees associated with check cashing services. Every dollar earned should ’GetItBackInTheDMV,’ and by that we mean the pockets of our residents.”

The EITC program is funded in part by Citi. “The Earned Income Tax Credit is a valuable tool that can improve financial stability for eligible workers,” said Reginald Exum, Vice President, Citi Community Relations. “Free tax preparation services and tax credits can play a vital role in helping eligible financially vulnerable Washington area residents withstand financial shocks, pay down debts and build up savings.”

Tax preparation services are available virtually or in-person (following COVID-19 safety protocols). Here’s what residents need to know when receiving help from a United Way NCA FEC or one of its partner VITA sites:

  • Services are provided free for tax filers with a household income of less than $56,000.
  • To have their taxes prepared, residents should have available proof of earned income, a valid Social Security number and photo ID.
  • Many people will qualify for EITC for the first time this year due to changes in their income, marital status, or parental status, according to the IRS. The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC.
  • The CTC is available to workers who earn more than $2,500 in 2020. A qualifying child for the CTC must be under the age of 17.

All United Way NCA FECs except the DC office, as well as IRS VITA sites located throughout Maryland and Virginia, will be offering free tax services until the week of April 15, 2021 (please check each location for specific cut-off dates).  A full list of locations is at unitedwaynca.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/VITA-Sites-3-18-2020-1.pdf.

For more information on United Way NCA’s financial stability services, visit unitedwaynca.org/what-we-do/economic-opportunity/.

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