Want An Even Bigger Tax Refund? Californians Leaving Millions Unclaimed
Monday, February 25, 2008
Los Angeles, CA - "Use it or lose it" has never been more true for thousands of Californians who are failing to use a federal tax credit, and losing out on thousands of dollars as a result. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was created by Congress in 1975 to provide an incentive to work. Congressman Xavier Becerra wants to get the word out to the more than 400,000 eligible California families.
"If they work but earn a modest salary, they may qualify to get a credit simply by applying for it, because Congress wants to ensure that people who work hard don't have to worry about abandoning their job and going on welfare, simply to exist."
Becerra also encourages working families with lower incomes to take advantage of free services, like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Centers set up throughout the state. He says the national economic stimulus package means most Californians will receive bigger tax refunds this year, which unfortunately, means new types of scam artists, too.
"A lot of these fly-by-night businesses who set up shop are saying, 'For a small fee, I'll make sure you're able to get that tax rebate that Congress just enacted into law.' We want our citizens to avoid that."
Taxpayers are also being warned about the perennial risks of so-called "refund anticipation" loans. They offer immediate cash rather than waiting for weeks for an income tax refund, but at loan terms that often cost more in the long run. Becerra believes spreading the word about tax assistance, the EITC and potential scams, is a bigger challenge in communities with limited English proficiency.
"In the Latino and Asian communities you'll often find these different businesses saying that for a modest fee of a $1,000 we’ll get you your $3,000 tax rebate. What they're not telling you is that, without having to pay a single dime, you still could have received that rebate."
More information about the EITC and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Centers can be found online at www.becerra.house.gov, or through the California Franchise Tax Board at www.ftb.ca.gov.
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