(Washington, DC) – Today, ahead of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day on January 28, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that free and virtual tax preparation services are being offered to low- and moderate-income District residents by the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) and the United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA).
“Part of giving more Washingtonians a fair shot is making sure they know about programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Mayor Bowser. “Now we need to spread the word that through this collaboration with the United Way NCA and other supporting partners, residents can work with trained IRS professionals and volunteers—for free—to get a credit potentially worth thousands of dollars.”
The EITC, one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs, is a refundable tax credit. For the 2021 tax year, households with incomes not exceeding $57,414 can qualify for the EITC, which could put up to $6,700 into the pockets of eligible taxpayers. According to the IRS, 25 million workers and families got about $62 billion in EITC as of December 2020. The average amount of EITC received nationwide was about $2,461.
DISB and United Way NCA are promoting free and virtual tax preparation services to help area residents navigate EITC eligibility and #GetItBackInTheDMV. The services are available through United Way NCA’s network of Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs), including a new WorkSource Montgomery location managed by CAFE (Coalition for the Advancement of Financial Education) Montgomery; partner IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program sites; Community Tax Aid sites; and AARP sites throughout the DC Metropolitan area.
“The sooner taxes are submitted, the sooner qualified residents will receive their tax refunds,” said DISB Commissioner Karima M. Woods. “We also encourage unbanked residents to use this opportunity to access one of the many affordable banking options and avoid unnecessary fees associated with check cashing services. Every dollar earned should ‘GetItBackInTheDMV’, and by that, we mean in the pockets of our residents.”
To qualify for the EITC, you must:
- Have worked and earned income under $57,414
- Have investment income below $10,000 in the tax year 2021
- Have a valid Social Security number by the due date of your 2021 return (including extensions)
- Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year
- Not file Form 2555 (related to foreign earned income)
Many people will qualify for EITC for the first time this year due to changes in their income, marital status, or parental status, according to the IRS.
“Each tax season, your United Way of the National Capital Area invests in IRS-trained professionals to help residents determine EITC as well as the Child Tax Credit (CTC) eligibility and receive free tax preparation services,” said United Way NCA President and CEO Rosie Allen-Herring. “Our goal is to support the path to financial equity through our network of FECs that offer free services to help our neighbors claim these credits. Last year, EITC qualifying residents in the DMV received an average tax refund of $2,300 that they were able to use to pay off debt or contribute to generational wealth that can transform the future of their families.”
The EITC program is funded in part by Citi.
“The Earned Income Tax Credit is a valuable resource that has the potential to improve financial stability for eligible workers,” said Vice President, Citi Community Investing and Development Reginald Exum. “Tax time can play a vital role in helping financially vulnerable Washington area residents withstand financial shocks, pay down debts and build up savings. Currently, four out of five eligible workers claim and get their EITC – we want to raise that number to five out of five.”
Tax preparation services start on January 28 and are available virtually or in person (following COVID-19 safety protocols). All United Way NCA FECs except the DC office, as well as IRS VITA sites located throughout Maryland and Virginia, will be offering free tax services until the week of April 15, 2022. For more information on using the services, please visit unitedwaynca.org/vita.