CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has returned more than $67 million for 685,000 low-income working families, the highest amount in the five-year history of the state EITC. Additionally, state-funded tax assistance programs served more than 34,000 tax filers, a 12 percent increase over last year.
“The Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit puts money back in the pockets of hard working Illinois families. Like the federal tax credit, it’s intended to help those who are working hard to stay out of poverty keep more of their hard-earned income to provide for their families,” said Governor Blagojevich. “The success of the EITC can be attributed in part to the outreach and assistance provided by the Tax Counseling Project and Tax Assistance Program. This year we reached more workers than ever before and helped them recover more of their earnings than ever before.”
The Illinois EITC equals five percent of the federal EITC and provides a maximum credit of $215. To qualify a family with a single head of household with two or more children must earn less than $34,548. Families with two children, filing jointly, must earn less than $35,548. Families with one child and single head of household must earn less than $30,338 and those married filing jointly with one child can earn up to $31,338. Married couples and individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 with an income of less than $12,490 may also qualify for the EITC.
This was the fifth year for the state EITC and the second year the credit was refundable, meaning taxpayers received a check if the credit was more than the taxes they owed.
“We place a very high priority on ensuring that those eligible for the EITC claim it and receive the benefit,” said Illinois Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer. “We’re pleased that there continues to be an increase in the number of taxpayers who are aware of and filing for this important credit.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services contracts with the Center for Economic Progress Tax Counseling project (TCP) and the Tax Assistance Program (TAP) to provide free tax preparation for eligible low-income families and individuals. Trained volunteers offer tax assistance, including how to apply for the EITC. There are 47 locations throughout the state.
This year, the TCP assisted with 25,336 tax returns which generated $35 million in income tax refunds, a 16 percent increase over the previous year. The TAP assisted with 9,437 returns bringing in $12 million in refunds.
“The EITC and free tax assistance provide a much-needed income boost for those families who need it most,” said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. “The state and federal EITC make a real difference for families who often struggle to make ends meet, so it’s important for us to fund the tax counseling and tax assistance programs and conduct outreach to make more people aware of these critical tax benefits.”
“With the support and leadership of the Department of Human Services, we were able to serve over 25,000 families with high quality tax preparation services, making an important contribution toward meeting their financial goals,” said David Marzahl, executive director of the Center for Economic Progress.