Tuesday, January 9, 2007

State urges working families to seek Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and also offers free tax preparation

Working Louisiana families leave an estimated $100 million in federal Earned Income Tax Credit on the table, and the state is providing free tax preparation to encourage workers to file.

The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS), in conjunction with the departments of Revenue and Labor, announced the opening of more than 175 free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across Louisiana to provide free tax service to any person who earns less than $38,348 a year (married, filing jointly). These sites will operate through April 16.

“You don’t have to pay fees to claim your own money,” said Drew Murray, director of EITC and asset building programs at DSS. “Many people don’t stop to think that so-called ‘rapid refunds’ are actually loans with high interest. Please save your money by using a free tax service.”

The federal EITC is a tax benefit for low- to moderate-income working families, including some workers without children. People who qualify can get a refund even if no taxes were taken out of their pay during the year; residents also can file for back refunds for previous years, Murray noted.

Receipt of the refund does not affect eligibility for benefits such as cash assistance (welfare), Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income or subsidized housing.

To find a VITA site near you, call toll-free 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) or go online to

www.dss.state.la.us; www.revenue.louisiana.gov; or to www.laworks.net and click on “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.”