In the News

Earned Income Tax Credit is prize waiting to be claimed

By Dan Boone . THE TENNESSEAN . February 27, 2009

If you are one of many Middle Tennesseans who faced financial challenges in 2008, the Internal Revenue Service may have some good news for you!

If you worked some part of last year and your household income was not over $41,646, this message is for you. Please take a minute to learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break that could put up to $4,800 in your pocket!

More than 57,000 low- to moderate-income workers in Davidson County pocketed more than $110 million last year at tax time, thanks to EITC. But while many Nashvillians claim EITC each year, the IRS estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of those eligible for EITC fail to claim it.

Why? Because lower-income workers may not be legally required to file a return, but you must file to get EITC. Some may assume that since they paid little or no taxes in to the IRS, they'll get nothing back if they file. With EITC, they still may qualify for a refund.

This year, even more may miss out on EITC because they have never been eligible for it and don't know about it.

Generally, to qualify for EITC you must file a federal tax return and attach Schedule EIC. If you use tax software, it calculates the credit for you, so there's no extra form to fill out.

Also to qualify for EITC, there is a limit on investment income: You cannot have received more than $2,950 last year. And filers with no children must be over age 24 and under 65.

Married couples with at least two children get the highest EITC, up to $4,824. Single filers and those with fewer or no qualifying children are eligible for a lesser amount.

The IRS offers in-person help with claiming EITC. You can visit one of the free tax-help sites in Middle Tennessee that will be open through April 15. Dial the United Way at 211 to find the location and hours of the closest site, or call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-906-9887.

The IRS greatly appreciates the work of the Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence (, United Way of Williamson County, the Tennessee Department of Human Services, the Tennessee Alliance for Financial Independence ( and other local partners in promoting public awareness of EITC and sponsoring local tax-help sites where filers can get free help claiming EITC and other tax breaks.

Dan Boone of Nashville is an Internal Revenue Service media specialist. E-mail:

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