In 2013, federal tax credits will mean more for working families than ever before. As the economy struggles to recover from the recession, the Earned Income Credit can provide relief for many working families who are under economic stress. The EIC can help families pay back bills, avoid utility shut-offs or eviction, buy groceries, cover child care costs, or meet other needs. Working individuals and families need to know that help may be available when you file your 2013 tax return. You also need to know how and where to get assistance.

If you worked full time or part time during 2012 and you had a low to moderate income (less than $47,000 with children and less than $13,980 without children) you may qualify for the EIC. You may also receive the Child Tax Credit if you had children living with you for at least half of the year. If you qualify, you owe less in taxes and you may get cash back. Also, some people who don’t owe taxes can get the Earned Income Credit. However, to get these credits, you must file a tax return.

The EIC could put as much as $3,169 into the pockets of a family with one child, or send as much as $5,236 to a family with two children, or up to $475 for a worker with no children who is between the ages of 25-64. This year workers who raised three or more children in their home in 2012 can get an EIC of up to $5,891. While the amount varies with your income, number of children and other circumstances, the IRS estimates that 20-25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit. The extra dollars that taxpayers can get through EIC can make their lives a little easier. Some individuals and families may qualify for the first time because of unemployment or other changes in their financial, marital or parental status during the past year.

Some examples of workers who can qualify for the EIC include: workers who have one child in their home and had income of less than $36,920 (or $42,130 for married workers); workers raising two children with income of less than $41, 952 (or $47,162 for married workers); or workers with no children who earned less than $13,980 (or $19,190 for married workers). Workers who were raising three or more children in their home in 2012 and had income of less than $45,060 (or $50,270 for married workers) could get an EIC of up to $5,891. Workers within these categories should check to see if they qualify. Workers with investment income exceeding $3,200 in 2011 may not claim EIC.

Free help may be available to determine eligibility or to file a claim at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites. VITA volunteers are trained according to IRS guidelines to fill out basic tax forms including those needed to claim the earned income credit and the child tax credit. There are two VITA sites in Hopkinsville and one in Cadiz. Check with the Pennyrile Area Community Center at 270-886-6341 or the Kentucky Department of Revenue at 270-889-6521 in Hopkinsville and the John L. Street Library at 270-522-6301 in Cadiz for dates and times that they are available.

MARSHA O. PARKER is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.

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