Millions of dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed each year – is some of it yours?

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Department of Commerce News ReleaseDepartment of Commerce

Jan. 25, 2018

Millions of dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed each year – is some of it yours?

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a benefit for working people with low to moderate incomes.

OLYMPIA, WA Workers earning up to $53,930 may be eligible to receive the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). A tax return must be filed to get the credit, even if no tax is owed or filing a tax return is not required.

Many people are eligible for this tax benefit, but it often goes unclaimed. The IRS estimates 20 percent of those eligible either do not claim the benefit on their taxes or do not file a tax return at all. Seniors, individuals with low incomes, and non-English speaking taxpayers account for much of the unclaimed credits because they don’t realize they are eligible. The credit reduces the amount of taxes owed and results in a lump sum refund payment for most people who are eligible to claim it.

Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed Jan. 26, 2018 as “Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day” in the state of Washington as part of a nationwide effort to spread the word about this under-used tax credit and provide information and resources to claim it. Read the Governor’s proclamation

“Together, the Earned Income Tax Credit and low-income Child Tax Credit (CTC) are among the strongest tools to promote work and help workers with children move out of poverty," Inslee said. “It is important for Washingtonians to be aware of this opportunity because one in five eligible taxpayers do not claim or receive this benefit.”

Just over 164,000 Washingtonians were lifted out of poverty by the EITC and CTC, including an average of 81,000 children each year from 2011 to 2013. In 2017, 426,000 Washington residents applied for the credit, claiming $926 million in refunds, for an average refund of $2,177.

This year individuals can receive a tax refund of up to $6,444 if they meet eligibility requirements.

“Helping working families get tax credits they are owed allow those families to make essential purchases or contribute to savings,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the Department of Commerce. “EITC dollars strengthen family finances, while also strengthening communities by boosting local economies. That is why we strive to make sure that everyone eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit knows about it and has the resources they need to claim it.”

The Department of Commerce and Department of Social and Health Services are partners with many local agencies and nonprofit organizations across the state in raising awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit and free tax preparation services.

Free tax preparation services are available to many low- and moderate-income families. Just dial 2-1-1 and ask for free tax preparation locations. You may also search “free tax preparation” online.

On Jan. 26, communities throughout Washington and nationwide are taking part in national EITC Day to promote public awareness of the tax credit.

Local EITC Contacts

Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition (Walla Walla and Columbia counties)

Steve Dickerson, 509.540.1247 or Elizabeth Guerra, 509.529.4980

Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council

Linda Limbeck, 509.662.6156 ext. 238

Kitsap Community Resources

Anjalee Blackwell, 360.473.2126

Lower Columbia Community Action Programs (Cowlitz County)

Liz Myntti, 360.425.3430, ext. 215

Opportunity Council (Whatcom County)

Lisa Sohni 360.734.5121 ext. 224

Pierce County Asset Building Coalition

Alanna Rodgers 253.719.3743

Community Action of Skagit County

Lynn Christofersen, 360.588-5748 or 360.416.7585

Spokane County United Way

Andrey Muzychenko, 509.324.5030

United Way of King County

Emily Vyhnanek, 206.461.5076

Asset Building Coalition of Mason County

Allison Maluchnik, 360.401.9808

United Way of Snohomish County

Lynsey Gagnon, 425.374.5526

Thurston County Asset Building Coalition

Kirsten Klein, AARP Tax-Aide Local Coordinator, 360.269.5771 or Stephanie Abraham, VISTA Outreach Coordinator, 360.464.6055

United Way of Yakima County

Paula Slaye, 509.966.5163

Klickitat County Asset Building Coalition

Brian Wanless, 509.250.0737. Appointments can be made at the Senior Services Center, 509.773.3757

OIC of WA: the Prosperity Center (Grant and Adams counties)

Carolyn Grant, 509.765.9206 ext. 239

Community Housing Resource Center (Clark and Skamania counties)

Cheyanne Llanos Bare, 360.690.4496 ext. 107


Penny Thomas, Media Relations, 206-256-6106

James Helling, Community Services and Housing, 360-725-4144

Media Center

Twitter: @WAStateCommerce