KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With a Master’s Degree under her belt and a Doctorate in speech pathology in the works, Lisa Berlowitz never thought she’d be among the nation’s underemployed.
But an unexpected illness that landed the mother of two in the hospital meant she earned less in 2011 than she ever had before.
“About $6,500 for the whole year,” said Berlowitz. “I was hoping at some point in my life to be making six-figures, not four-figures.”
But Berlowitz recently learned about the EITC – or Earned Income Tax Credit
– that will give her family a much-needed $2,500 security blanket.
“The tax credit allows me to get money back from the IRS
even though I didn’t pay all that much in, which in my family is going to go toward paying the rent and food we eat,” said Berlowitz.
The IRS estimates that 20% of those who qualify for the tax credit did not apply for it last year. However there is some good news. Those who qualify can submit for the tax credit for up to the last three years if they missed out on previous years
“Even if they have a tax liability of zero, they an still get the earned income tax credit,” said Kate Lett-Deathe with the Internal Revenue Service. “But, if they have been working, and they have withholding, they’re eligible for their federal withholding. If they have children, they might be eligible for the child tax credit. There’s many other things they’re eligible for in addition to that earned income tax credit.
According to the EITC website, “Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.
“There’s help, there’s a assistance,” said Jason Wood, the president of KC CASH Coalition
, an organization that brings together leading financial, educational, community and business organizations to provide free tax preparation to lower income individuals. “If you qualify you can get your taxes prepared for free and hopefully get the credits and money that are owed to you that you’ve worked for for the year.
EITC approved filers can expect to get between $460 and $5,800 back on their tax returns.
To find out if you are eligible, call the United Way
‘s 2-1-1 or visit . There are 20 location across the metro where you can file your income taxes for free and get assistance on applying for EITC. Visit the EITC section
of the United Way’s site for more information.