Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien joined The Piton Foundation today to kick off the 2009 tax filing season by encouraging Colorado taxpayers to take advantage of tax credits and free filing options.
"With so many people facing financial difficulties, we want taxpayers to get all the tax credits they're entitled to as quickly as they can without paying more than they have to," said O'Brien.
A powerful work incentive and anti-poverty tool, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit offered through the Internal Revenue Service to families with children that earned less than about $42,000 in 2008. In 2005, the latest year for which information from the IRS is available, 265,000 Coloradans received $450 million in EITC refunds.
However, it is estimated that about 15 percent of eligible taxpayers don't receive the EITC because they are unaware of the credit, don't know how to apply, or are intimidated by the tax return forms.
"Coloradans who have been holding jobs that have long provided security for their families may now be grappling with unemployment or reduced wages and do not know where to turn," said O'Brien. "They may not realize they could qualify for these tax credits."
The counties with the highest percent of taxpayers receiving the EITC are in the San Luis Valley, southeast Colorado, and on the eastern plains. The counties with the largest numbers of EITC recipients are Denver, El Paso, Arapahoe, Adams and Jefferson. Large numbers of EITC recipients are also found in Weld County, Pueblo County, Larimer County, Boulder County and Mesa County.
According to The Piton Foundation, which sponsors a statewide public information campaign about tax credits for working families, the average EITC refund in Colorado is about $1,700, but for taxpayers with incomes between $12,000 and $17,000, the credit can be as large as $4,800.
Other tax credits benefiting low- and moderate-wage workers include the Child Tax Credit, Saver's Credit and two tax credits for taxpayers who pay for postsecondary education.
Lt. Gov. O'Brien also encouraged taxpayers to take advantage of free tax return preparation and electronic filing options:
- Anyone with an adjusted gross income of up to $56,000 can prepare and electronically file their federal tax return through the IRS' Free File Program, using commercial online software provided by private tax software companies. Since Free File's debut in 2003, more than 19.2 million returns have been filed through the program, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Taxpayers must enter through the irs.gov website to use Free File and not by going directly to a participating company's website. While fees may apply to state tax return preparation, Colorado taxpayers can file their state return online free at www.netfile.state.co.us
- Colorado also has nearly 125 sites where free tax preparation and e-filing is provided by trained volunteers to taxpayers making less than $42,000. A list of free tax sites is available by dialing 2-1-1, the statewide hotline linking callers to health and human services resources, or through The Piton Foundation's web site at www.piton.org/eitc. The 2-1-1 hotline also provides callers with information about the EITC and other tax credits.
The Piton Foundation, which distributes more than 1.5 million outreach materials annually, makes these materials available free of charge to employers, nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and others who work with eligible taxpayers. The state alone distributes more than 500,000 pieces to public benefit recipients and recipients of unemployment compensation. Materials can be ordered by contacting the foundation at 303-825-6246.
NOTE: PDF ATTACHMENT OF 2007 CAMPAIGN REPORT
EITC and Child Tax Credit Eligibility Guidelines—Tax Year 2008
For the EITC, if you have:
Earned income less than:
Claim an EITC up to:
2 or more children
For the Child Tax Credit, if you have:
Earned more than:
Claim a Child Tax Credit up to:
1 or more children
* EITC income limits for married workers are $3,000 higher
Free Tax Assistance Sites in Colorado
The Piton Foundation and the Colorado Community College System sponsor Tax Help Colorado, which provides free tax assistance at community colleges in Colorado. In 2009, Tax Help Colorado operates at:
Aims Community College in Greeley
Community College of Aurora, Lowry Campus
Community College of Denver, at Manual H.S.
Morgan Community College in Fort Morgan
Hours of operation for these sites, and information about all other free tax sites in Colorado, are available by calling 2-1-1 (a free call) or at www.piton.org/eitc.