Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the county’s Department of Human Services have joined with United Way, NORWESCAP and AARP in urging eligible county residents to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The EITC provides a subsidy for low-income working families. However, thousands of hard working residents miss out on millions of dollars each year because they do not claim the tax credit on their federal and state tax returns.

Jodi Miciak of the United Way told the freeholders during their March 9 meeting that 40 percent of Morris County taxpayers are eligible to claim the tax credit, but only 13 percent do, leaving on the table some $123 million that could be used to help those who do not apply remain financially stable.

In New Jersey, a low-income household with three or more children could qualify for as much as $5,657 in federal and state tax credits for the 2010 tax year when filing jointly.

One person who has benefitted from the EITC is Aloha Wilkins of Boonton Township, who told the freeholders that she has a full-time job as a skills instructor for the developmentally disabled population, but she is still classified as a member of the working poor.

“This year I received over $7,000 from the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Wilkins said. “It’s the only time I have money to spend on anything other than bills.”

Wilkins, who is also working toward an Associates Degree in Human and Social services, told the freeholders that she put some of the money into savings, put another portion away for summer activities for her two young children and was also able to purchase some furniture for her apartment.

“Eventually I will be an individual who does not depend on the tax credit,” Wilkins said. “But for now, it eases my financial worries.”

Freeholder Director William Chegwidden said the county would do what it could to help spread the word about the EITC so more eligible families will take advantage of the program.

Chegwidden also said residents can learn more about the tax credit by dialing the information and referral hot line, 2-1-1. Multilingual call specialists will assist callers in finding out if they qualify for EITC benefits and will direct them where to go for free tax preparation assistance from highly-trained volunteers at sites throughout Morris County.

Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit may also be found online at www.nj211.org.