Read more about the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the largest anti-poverty tools in the U.S.
Francis Taylor, Sentinel Staff Writer
For many individuals and families struggling in today's economy, every dollar counts. Clipping coupons, comparing prices, and shopping for bargains are facts of life for millions of Californians who have low to medium income. And, while most people will say they would not turn down a few thousand dollars to help make ends meet, many do--without even realizing it.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is widely regarded as one of the federal government's most successful anti-poverty programs, and in the tax year 2012, the maximum credit is $5,891 with three or more qualifying children. It is estimated that over 880,000 eligible Californians fail to claim over $2 billion in tax credits which not only puts cash in the hands of low income Californians, but also, contributes to the overall health and growth of our state's economy.
The fact is that unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credits represent an unrealized economic stimulus: In 2009, the $1.2 billion in unclaimed tax credits resulted in the loss of an estimated $1.4 billion in sales by California businesses. That revenue could have spurred the creation of thousands of jobs, according to the New America Foundation. Families who did not claim the credit would have received an average refund of $1,400, which they earned and were entitled to receive. Sadly, through lack of knowledge or merely neglect, they did not claim their entitlement.
The economic impact of unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credits is borne disproportionately by low-income and minority families and individuals--those that most need to reclaim the money they are owed.
Everyone who is in a low to moderate income category should check to see if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Free tax preparation programs are available throughout the state and Jerome E. Horton, Chair of the California State Board of Equalization, is partnering with other officials and organizations to sponsor several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) seminars in the Southern California area. At each of these seminars, volunteers will determine individual and family eligibility for the credit and help them by filing a claim and providing them with all the tools and information that is needed.
"For California to rise above economic uncertainty and succeed, so must her citizens." Horton said. "As Chairman of the Board of Equalization, I am committed to giving Californians the tools they need to help them achieve economic success.
Jerome E. Horton is Chairman of California's Board of Equalization, which collects more than $50 billion annually in taxes and fees supporting state and local government services. For more information on Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program seminars, visit: http://www.boe.ca.gov/members/horton/2012/vita.htm