JOTF Workshop: How the Earned Income Tax Credit Benefits Working Families

On January 13th, JOTF and the Baltimore CASH Campaign co-hosted a forum to give service providers and advocates information on tax credits and free tax preparation services available to low-wage working families.  A group of about 50 representatives from non-profit and government agencies around the region attended to get informed and collect materials to distribute to clients.

Rob Bader from the Baltimore CASH Campaign provided an overview of tax credits available to low-wage workers, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit, and the Dependent Care Credit.  The EITC is the most meaningful for families, since it provides a refundable credit worth any where from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on a family’s size and income.  For many families, the EITC is a windfall that can either help them catch up on basic expenses, or help them with a much-needed major expense such as a reliable car.

Also important this year is the Economic Stimulus payment that most taxpayers received in Spring or Summer of 2008.  Those who did not receive the payment last year can receive a Recovery Rebate Credit on this year’s tax return.  The credit is worth anywhere from $300 to over $1200, depending on income and family size. The credit is available to anyone who earned more than $3000 in 2008.

In addition to federal credits, families are also eligible for a state EIC, which was recently increased from 20% to 25% of the federal EITC and expanded to cover low-wage workers without dependents.  Also of note here in Maryland is the upcoming Money Power Day—a free financial wellness fair taking place March 21, 2009 at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

For more information on free tax prep services in Baltimore City and County contact the Baltimore CASH Campaign at 443-451-4079.

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