Millions fail to claim one of the Federal Government's biggest giveaways

Tax credit for low income workers fights poverty

TAMPA - Many eligible taxpayers fail to claim a federal tax credit worth up to $6,000.

It's called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, and after food stamps, it's the federal government's biggest anti-poverty expenditure. 

Around 27 million Americans qualified for EITC last year.  For many, it was the difference between making it and falling through the cracks.

"It's that much of a difference.  I think in 2012, a million Americans were moved out of the ranks of poverty -- half of them children," said Niki Paksoy, Director of United Way Suncoast.

Paksoy says her agency actively looks for people in the Tampa Bay area who qualify.  Adults, with or without children who worked for at least part of last year, yet made less than $51,000, could qualify for a tax credit of up to $6,000.

That credit offsets any federal  income taxes you might owe. But if your income is low enough, the entire amount goes right into your pocket.

Some 20 percent of families that are eligible don't get the tax credit.  It's often because they're not required to file a tax return, or they don't believe they're poor enough.

"And there are millions of people who could qualify this year who didn't qualify last year.  So, it's important for people to find out if they're eligible for EITC," said Paksoy.

Taxpayers in Hillsborough County can find out if they're eligible by calling 2-1-1, a help line staffed by The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.  United Way Suncoast will also offer free tax filing for lower income families starting February 1.

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