Growing up in Smithfield, my mom pinched pennies by making small changes at home like cutting our hair and reusing our lunch bags. Her frugality helped to put three kids through college on our families modest income. I know the world is much more complicated today. My childhood is part of the reason why I am dedicated to raising awareness on every possible solution for people to be financially secure.
This tax season I will once again join my colleagues in government and many community partners to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the state.
You may be wondering what the EITC is, and if you qualify. Here are some facts from the Internal Revenue Service:
" The EITC is for people whose income does not exceed the following limits:
o $46,227 ($51,567 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
o $43,038 ($48,378 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
o $37,870 ($43,210 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
o $14,340 ($19,680 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children
" It is likely that one in five Rhode Islanders are not aware that they are eligible for this credit.
" Eligibility can change from year to year for people based on changes in their marital, parental and financial status. Millions of workers will qualify for EITC for the first time this year, making awareness critical.
" In the 2012 tax year, there were 82,000 EITC claims in Rhode Island, bringing about $172 million back into our local economy.
In addition to the EITC, if you earn $51,567 or less, you qualify for free tax return preparation services available at more than 70 community sites throughout Rhode Island. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites include libraries and community action agencies across the state. Individuals may also visit treasury.ri.gov or call United Ways 2-1-1 for more information.
Last year, I visited some VITA sites, and met with Rhode Islanders who benefited from the EITC. They all told me that the money they received from this tax credit made a big difference. One single mom cried when she found out how much she would get back on her tax return. Another parent no longer worried about how to put food on the table.
Programs like EITC and VITA show that government can work, it can lift people up. We all know someone that could benefit from these programs. Please help spread the word on these programs because in the words of the IRS: You earned it. Now file, claim it, and get it!
- Gina Raimondo
Rhode Island General Treasurer