Friday, January 18, 2008

Groan... or whoop-whoop?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 7:58 PM

The time is upon us... not Mardi Gras, but tax season. Will you be groaning or whoop-whooping your way through your return this year? I'm sure we all hope for a 'whoop-whoop,' and Louisiana's Department of Social Services knows it. Today it issued a press release that might ensure more taxpayers will finish their filing with an ecstatic whoop-whoop over a projected tax refund rather than taxes owed.

DSS and the State of Louisiana are urging working families to find out if they're eligible for federal Earned Income Tax Credits, and in conjunction with the departments of Revenue and Labor, announced the opening of almost 160 free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites across the state. These VITA sites will provide free tax preparation to low to moderate - income filers and will be open through April 16.

Each year, an estimated $100 million in EITC refunds go unclaimed by Louisiana families that most likely qualify. The director of Solutions to Poverty at DSS, Drew Murray, also cautioned families against using rapid refund services that can charge exorbitant fees for advancing an anticipated refund. Instead, he encourages taxpayers to use the free tax services.

The EITC is a federal tax benefit designed to help low income families, even those without children. Residents can still qualify for the tax credit even if they had no taxes taken out of their paychecks during the year, and it also has no bearing on other benefits such as welfare, Medicaid and food stamps. Single or married persons must have worked full or part time and fall at or below the following income levels to quailfy:

- $37,783 ($39,783 if married, filing jointly) with two

or more children; up to $4,716 in refunds possible

- $33,241 ($35241 if married, filing jointly) with one qualifying child; up to $2,853 in refunds possible

- $12,590 ($14,590 if married, filing jointly) with no qualifying children; up to $428

For more information on qualifying and to find a VITA site near you, call 1-888- LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578).

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