Wall Street CEOs and big corporations have armies of accountants at their disposal to help them claim every last penny in tax breaks. Hardworking families don’t have that luxury. As tax season begins, I want to make sure Ohioans know about the tax credits working families can claim, and the free help that’s available to make sure you get your maximum refund.
Last month, we marked Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, dedicated to getting the word out about the tax credit that can help hundreds of thousands of Ohio families get back more of their hard-earned money.
According to the most recent data more than 990,000 Ohio households claimed the EITC, and received an average refund of $2,449 — but too many families don’t realize they’re eligible. One in five families who are eligible for the EITC fails to claim it. If you are one of those families, you could potentially miss out on thousands of dollars.
Of course, there’s a reason plenty of families miss out on these credits. We know that filing taxes is complicated, and it can be particularly challenging for families claiming the EITC. But getting help doesn’t need to be expensive — in fact, it can be free.
One tool available to Ohioans is the IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free, brand-name software to individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less.
For families claiming the EITC, another option is to use one of Ohio’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. VITA sites offer free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less, individuals with disabilities, and the elderly. VITA sites are not only free, they are more reliable than paid tax preparation companies. All VITA volunteers are trained by an organization partnering with the IRS. These folks know what they’re doing.
That’s why I fought to secure $3 million in additional funding for the VITA program. And it’s why I’ve introduced the VITA Act to make the VITA grant program permanent.
You can download a list of VITA sites in Ohio from my website by following this link: brown.senate.gov/download/vita-sites. Many sites in Ohio are hosting special “Super Saturday” events throughout the month of February, to help as many families as possible claim the credits they’ve earned. You can find a list of Super Saturday events in Ohio here: http://brown.senate.gov/download/super-saturday-sites.
All Ohioans — not just those with high-priced accountants — deserve to get the tax refunds they’ve earned over a year of hard work.
The writer is a U.S. senator from Ohio.