For Immediate Release - January 23, 2012

Division of Banks Encourages Taxpayers to Investigate Potential Benefits of Earned Income Tax Credit

Free, volunteer tax preparation options are available in many communities

BOSTON - January 23, 2012 - The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Banks is encouraging low- and moderate-income taxpayers to explore the potential benefits of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which gave an average of $1,898 to Massachusetts consumers eligible for the benefit last year. This refundable tax credit is intended to help these workers keep more of their income.

January 27 is Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, and the Division of Banks is highlighting the credit to make sure that taxpayers who have not taken advantage of it in the past do so this year. Taxpayers can find out if they are eligible for the credit by visiting the IRS EITC Assistant.

"For many Massachusetts taxpayers, the Earned Income Tax Credit is an opportunity to hold on to more of their money during tax time," said David Cotney, the Commissioner of Banks. "With an estimated 20 to 25 percent of qualifying workers missing out on thousands of dollars a year, it is important that we maximize awareness of this benefit."

In 2011, over 26 million taxpayers nationwide received nearly $59 billion as a credit on their 2010 federal income tax returns. Potential qualifying workers include people who live in rural areas, are self-employed, receive certain disability pensions or have children with disabilities, are without a qualifying child, are not proficient in English, are grandparents raising grandchildren, or are recently divorced, unemployed, or experienced other changes to their marital, financial or parental status.

Low- and moderate-income tax filers can seek assistance through the IRS Volunteer Tax Assistance Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, which offer free tax help to taxpayers who qualify. The VITA program offers free tax help to low- and moderate-income people (generally $49,000 and below) who cannot prepare their own tax returns. For more information, call the IRS at (800) 906-9887. The TCE program provides free assistance to those 60 years old or older. For more information, call (800) 829-1040.

The Division of Banks oversees state-chartered banks and credit unions, check sellers, debt collectors, foreign transmittal agencies, mortgage lenders and brokers, and is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Follow the Office at www.mass.gov/consumer, its Consumer Connections Blog and at its Twitter feed, @Mass_Consumer.