Although we’re still in the thick of winter and just wrapping up the holidays, many West Virginians are already receiving their W-2 forms and preparing to file their taxes. One week from today, January 31, is the first day for citizens to file their federal income tax returns, and it is my hope that West Virginians will file as early as possible so they can get their refunds right away. Many West Virginians may be able to get some tax relief thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit, and many may be able to receive free assistance in filling out and filing their returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
The EITC was designed to help low-income workers keep more of their earnings by offsetting their automatic payroll contributions to Social Security. For many West Virginia families, this credit is a lifeline, including 155,000 West Virginia households last year. The EITC has been proven to help workers improve their work history and earn more over time, and to help families invest in their long-term well-being. I’ve always been committed to helping West Virginians make ends meet, and that is why I have long supported this beneficial tax credit.
Despite the benefits of the EITC, the IRS currently estimates that about 20 percent of all people who are eligible for this tax credit are unaware of their eligibility and therefore do not claim it. Depending on how much income you earned from work and the size of your family, you might be eligible to claim this credit on your taxes. In fact, you might be eligible even if you do not owe any taxes or are not required to file a tax return.
If your income is less than $46,227 ($51,567 if you are married and filing your taxes jointly), ask your preparer if you are eligible for the EITC or visit http://www.wveitc.com/index.html to find out if you are eligible. If you have children, you may also be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, and may be able to claim it even if you do not owe any taxes. The Child Tax Credit provides a tax benefit for families with children, and can help provide more resources to help parents meet their children’s needs. You can find out more information about the Child Tax Credit at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Ten-Facts-about-the-Child-Tax-Credit. Your tax preparer can give you information about the Child Tax Credit as well.
Many taxpayers can also receive free help with their taxes from volunteers in their community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This free help is available across our state. You can find a location close to you by calling 2-1-1, or visiting http://www.wveitc.com/eitc_vitasite.html.
This tax season, make sure you are receiving all of the federal tax credits you earned. Ask your tax preparer if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit, or be sure to check your family’s eligibility when you prepare your own taxes.