Officials warn that income tax scams occur at this time of the year.

More than 2,300 Texas County individuals and families received almost $4.9 million in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) last year.

“This year, the EITC can put an extra $457 to $5,756 into the pockets of low income working individuals and families,” said IRS spokesman Michael Devine. Adding, “if they qualify and claim the credit, they could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even receive a refund beyond the amount of tax withheld.”

The EITC was created in 1975 in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to serve as a work incentive. Last year, 23.5 million taxpayers received about $49 billion from EITC nationally and almost 469,000 Missouri residents received more than $953 million.

However, the IRS estimates that as many as one in four eligible taxpayers fail to claim this tax credit because they are unaware of the EITC or they don’t know how to claim it.

Those who may be eligible to but don’t claim EITC include non-English speakers, people who have earned income but do not have a filing requirement, childless taxpayers, rural residents, new parents, grandparents raising grandchildren and foster parents.

To find out if you are eligible, the IRS suggests using the EITC Assistant on the IRS.gov Web site.

“It is an easy-to-use interactive tool to help determine if you are qualified for EITC,” Devine said. It is also available in Spanish.

Free tax preparation is available for people with income less than $49,000 who cannot prepare their own tax return through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites. Trained community volunteers can help with special credits, such as EITC, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly. To find the closest site, call 1-800-906-9887.

For more information about EITC, IRS news, forms and publications, go to the official IRS Web site at www.irs.gov. Don’t be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations.

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