Nobody likes tax time. For most people, it’s a drag to get all your paperwork together, decipher the tax form (or find a tax preparer who won’t skin you), and wait with bated breath to see who owes who. For many low- to moderate-income earners, though, there’s some help out there.
Every year, billions of dollars in tax credits go unclaimed. One of the largest untapped resources when if comes to deductions is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This program is aimed at that borderline demographic of workers who neither qualify for welfare nor make enough to cover all of their needs. While the credit is available for singles and couples, it is most beneficial for those with children.
The main reason that the EITC continually goes unclaimed is that no one has ever heard of it. Although the IRS and grass-roots non-profits have begun some limited public interest campaigns, the EITC is not common knowledge. Those who prepare their own taxes are even less likely to know about this particular credit. Local tax preparation companies can likely help you apply for the credit (you can also download the form at irs.gov), but these companies often charge a hefty fee.
You’re probably better off looking for a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in your area. VITA sites are usually set up by non-profits with volunteers trained based on an IRS-approved method. The people who work at these sites are volunteers who provide tax assistance to low- to moderate-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.
For more information on VITA sites and the EITC, and to find out if you qualify, search for those terms at irs.gov.