During the first half of 2012 — the six-month period when most people filed their income tax returns — nearly 191,000 Utahns took advantage of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
Collectively, they received more than $428.8 million in either lower taxes or bigger refunds as a result of the tax credit, an average of $2,247 per taxpayer.
Information onlineFor detailed eligibility rules, go to www.irs.gov/eitc.
Yet behind that number lies an uncomfortable fact. One in five Utahns eligible to receive the credit, or about 48,000 people, failed to claim it on tax returns, according to Internal Revenue Service spokesman Bill Brunson. That means more than $107 million was left unclaimed.
"We would like nothing more than to see everyone who is eligible claim the Earned Income Tax Credit when they file their tax returns," he said.
The credit, or EITC, is designed to provide a financial boost to millions of low- to moderate-income Americans who earn $50,270 or less a year.
"A large part of the nation sees major changes every year with their tax situation," Steven Miller, IRS acting commissioner, said in a statement. "This year, millions of workers could qualify for the EITC for the first time, and the IRS urges them not to overlook this valuable credit."
He pointed out that wage earners, the self-employed and farmers who earn less than the qualifying $50,270 a year potentially could receive a significant reduction in their tax obligations or larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC.
According to the IRS, that could mean up to $475 in EITC for those without children, and a maximum credit of up to $5,891 for those with three or more qualifying children. More information on EITC and detailed eligibility rules are available at www.irs.gov/eitc.
Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, those eligible may get a refund even if they owe no tax, the IRS said.
To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return, even if they are not required to file, and specifically claim the credit, the IRS said.
Those eligible have several free options available to file a tax return:
Free File at www.IRS.gov • Free brand-name tax software walks filers through a question-and-answer format to help them claim every credit and deduction for which they are eligible. They also can file electronically for free, using Free File Fillable Forms, which are online versions of IRS paper forms designed for taxpayers comfortable preparing their own returns.
Free tax-preparation sites • EITC-eligible filers can seek free tax preparation at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. Search www.IRS.gov or call the IRS at 800-906-9887. Taxpayers can also find VITA/TCE sites by calling their community’s 211 line for local services.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers • Filers can seek free assistance in IRS locations across the country that are listed online at www.IRS.gov. Hours and services vary by location and should be checked before visiting.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.