Delawareans need to know about Earned Income Tax Credit
Tax season is now under way. Preparing taxes can be confusing and complicated, with dozens of different credits and deductions to review before filing. One of the most important tax credits available to working families is the Earned Income Tax Credit. However, thousands of Delaware families each year fail to take advantage of it.
The EITC helps working families keep more of what they earn - while strengthening the local economy. Research shows that most often families use their EITC refunds to put food on the table, pay their mortgage or rent, or make needed repairs to their home or car.
In Delaware, more than 70,000 individuals and families from across the state claim the EITC on their federal tax returns. In 2013, they received an average refund of $2,257. In total, the EITC brought $161 million back to Delaware families. This is money that goes right into the Delaware economy.
Unfortunately, as many as 20 percent of eligible families in Delaware do not file for the EITC and the corresponding financial benefits they can receive. For some Delaware families, with a total household income of up to $51,567, the EITC could put thousands back into their pockets. The State of Delaware has also enacted its own EITC for state taxes that provides additional support for eligible families.
To help Delawareans file their taxes and, if eligible, claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, Nehemiah Gateway Community Development Corporation, the United Way, and their partner organizations, operate Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs. VITA locations provide free tax help and tax return preparation by IRS-trained volunteers in convenient places, such as community centers, churches, libraries, and schools. You can visit www.nehemiahgateway.org to find one of these locations in your area. For clients who prefer to prepare their own returns, there is now a free software program available at www.MyFreeTaxesDE.com.
Since Nehemiah Gateway began providing free tax assistance in 2000, it has helped file more than 100,000 tax returns for free, bringing more than $150 million in tax refunds back to the pockets of hard-working Delaware taxpayers, and saving clients over $20 million in tax preparation fees.
But the campaign is not just about helping Delaware taxpayers get refunds. It’s about giving working families access to important financial information and products so that their tax refunds are put to the best possible use. Many non-profit organizations in Delaware offer financial education and employment-related programs that provide families the information they need to make the most of their money and improve their economic situation.
For example, Nehemiah Gateway and other community organizations, like First State Community Action Agency and the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, help their clients use their tax refund to start savings accounts. They also provide financial education services to help Delawareans meet their current needs and plan for their future.
The EITC and the financial tools offered by Nehemiah Gateway, First State Community Action Agency and many others in our community are pathways to help working families provide for themselves. In these challenging economic times, it is our hope that every Delawarean who qualifies for the EITC not only claims it, but learns how to best put that money to use. In many cases, it can make the difference between getting by and getting ahead.
U.S. Congressman John Carney
The Rev. Dr. Clifford Johnson
board president, Nehemiah Gateway CDC
pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church