Leaders urge locals to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit


Multiple IRS forms for 2018 federal tax returns. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

ALBANY, N.Y. — It’s the 14th-annual Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, and January 31 is also the official start of the 2020 tax filing season. In honor of EITC awareness, Albany’s Rep. Paul Tonko appeared at Tacos and Taxes, a free event to help local taxpayers file, get advice, and claim the credit that could add thousands to tax refunds.

Tacos and Taxes takes place at the Neighborworks Homeownership Center on River Street in Troy from noon to 3 p.m. A taco buffet and tax advice directly from the IRS will be available for the duration.

Tonka and Rensselaer Mayor Michael Stammel intend to raise awareness for EITC eligibility in the Capital District at the event, billed as a tax preparation kick-off celebration.

Earned Income Tax Credits—EITC—are refundable credits for working taxpayers who earn below $55,952 per year. EITC can save thousands for needy families, yet the IRS estimates that 20% of workers in the country—up to 14,000 eligible Capital Region taxpayers—do not claim it. As many as 400,000 eligible New Yorkers might miss this credit.

The EITC is one of the most effective income-support programs in the country, helping to lift almost 6 million individuals out of poverty in 2017, according to the Urban Institute.

“The New York State EITC is one of the most generous in the nation, providing a significant benefit to working families,” said state Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt.

In 2019, 25 million U.S. workers received over $61 billion in EITC refunds. New Yorkers filed 1.6 million claims worth nearly $4 billion in EITC funds. The average EITC amount in the state was $2,363. When combined, federal, state, and New York City EITCs can be worth almost $9,000 for a family more than two kids.

Tacos and Taxes will also highlight the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance grant program, an annual IRS initiative to fund free tax preparation services for the needy, including low-income earners, people with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers.

The HomeOwnership Center is backed by the Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program and Rensselaer County Housing Resources, which help low- and moderate-income families purchase property through homebuyer education services, financial counseling, grant application assistance, and matched savings programs.

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