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Many qualifying workers miss out on Earned Income Tax Credit

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By Congressman Tom Perriello

In this economy, every dollar counts — and so does a tax credit worth up to $5,657.

January 29 was designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day. More than 534,000 Virginia taxpayers took advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and received more than $1 billion in refunds for the 2008 tax year.

However, the IRS estimates that 20 to 25 percent of qualifying workers miss out on thousands of dollars every year because they fail to claim their EITC. I encourage folks to find out more about the credit to see if it applies to you. Some of the workers that most often miss out on this credit are those who are living in rural areas, self-employed, disabled, childless, older, or recently experienced a change in marital status or employment status.

The EITC is available to working people with earned incomes of less than $43,279 ($48,279 married filing jointly). For the 2009 tax year, EITC amounts vary from $457 to $5,657, with an average EITC of $2,000. Many people qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit for the first time this year because income limits have been raised or family income has declined.

For 2009 and 2010 tax returns, the stimulus bill is providing a temporary increase in EITC for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children. The maximum EITC for this new category is $5,657. The stimulus bill also increases the number of people eligible for the EITC.

The EITC is a refundable credit, and it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support because it rewards work while helping those families most in need. The EITC is available to both married and single people, with or without children, but the credit is greater for families with children. For example, families with more than one child and an income of up to $40,295 or $45,295 for married couples filing jointly, may be eligible to receive a credit of up to $5,028.

In order to receive the EITC, eligible families must first file a federal income tax return. Taxpayers who qualify for the EITC also qualify for free tax preparation assistance through the IRS Free File Program. For information on the free tax preparation site nearest you, you may visit www.irs.gov, or call 1-800-829-1040.

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For small businesses in the 5th district that want to expand their business in Washington, DC, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) and the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) will be hosting its first Small Business Industry Day at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, February 18, 2010. The event will provide small business owners with the opportunity to learn how to do business with the CVC and the AOC.

The CVC is looking for products for its two gift shops that are made in the USA and manufactured with U.S.-made materials. Such products can include educationcal toys, jewelry, and souvenir apparel whose product themes are inspried by the Capitol and the Congress. The AOC is looking for goods and services required to maintain its buildings, such as elevators, escalators, air handling units, and electrical systems, as well as products and services needed to maintain the landscaping around the Capitol complex, and conserve and repair historical objects and artwork.

This event will be held at the Capitol Visitor Center from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. Please contact my office if you are interested in attending.

Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 1-888-4-TOM4US (1-888-486-6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; or visit www.perriello.house.gov to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.