February 26, 2018

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit Remains a Crucial Benefit for Working Florida Families

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

With tax season in full swing, it’s a prime time to discuss the power of federal tax programs, specifically The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a poverty-fighting tax credit that nearly 20 percent of eligible households forget to claim. The EITC can be a very valuable tool: it can be worth up to $6,318, for example, for a family with three or more children. The credit has singlehandedly lifted more children and families out of poverty than any other federal program in place. Its effectiveness is likely due to the fact that it is a hand up, stabilizing hard working families across America and stimulating the local economies that surround them. Federal tax credits for working families like the EITC provide a strong incentive for work, and the credits should be utilized in local communities, strengthening their economies.

While the benefits of claiming the EITC are hefty, nearly one-in-five eligible families in America do not claim the tax credit, leaving $1.1 billion in unclaimed incentives on the table instead of in the pockets of hard working families. In Sarasota and Manatee counties alone, unclaimed credits total $26.2 million. In order for taxpayers to minimize filing mistakes and maximize refunds this year, it’s important that tax preparers are knowledgeable in qualifying factors for these common tax credits.

United Way has a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that provides quality, free tax preparation services for households that make less than $66,000/year. The VITA program and its preparers strive to maximize the refunds of families all across nation. With special consideration for federal credits like the EITC, VITA is working hard to put the federal incentives where they belong.

For VITA locations, or to file your taxes for free online, visit the United Way website. To find out if you qualify for the EITC, click here.

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