With the April 15 tax deadline approaching, there are more than 1,000 Columbia County residents who qualify for a tax credit but probably don't realize it, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2003, about 1,084 county taxpayers were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit on the federal tax returns but did not claim it.
In comparison, more than 5,400 county residents did claim the tax credit last year, benefiting working families at an average of $1,709 for a total of $9.2 million.
Statewide last year, more than 760,000 taxpayers took advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC.
"We want people to know if they qualify for the EITC, so eligible taxpayers can benefit from the credit,"IRS spokesman Eric Erickson stated in a press release. "Because eligibility rules can be complicated, we want people to carefully review the qualifications. We urge people who are in doubt to contact the IRS, one of its volunteer partners or a reputable tax professional."
EITC recipients also may qualify for free tax preparations and electronic filing through Free File, which is at www.irs.gov.
The income limits for this year's filing have increased for the EITC. To take the credit, taxpayers must make less than $33,692 if they have two or more qualifying children, $29,666 with one qualifying child or $11,230 if there are no children.
The income limits in each category are $1,000 more if a married couple files jointly.
The maximum refundable credit for the 2003 tax year is $4,204 for a family with two or more qualifying children, $2,547 for a family with one qualifying child and $382 if there are no qualifying children.
Military families also might qualify for the EITC because supplemental payments and combat pay are exempt from the income calculations.
The EITC was enacted in 1975 to offset federal taxes paid by low-income wage earners and to serve as a work incentive, according to the IRS press release. Last year, more than 20 million taxpayers nationwide collected more than $36 billion in EITC payments.
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