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A Costly Habit: Leaving Millions in NH Tax Credits on the Table

Free assistance is available to help Granite State tax filers break a costly habit. Advocates says up to $40 million in tax credits are available, but are being left unclaimed. (Granite United Way)
Free assistance is available to help Granite State tax filers break a costly habit. Advocates says up to $40 million in tax credits are available, but are being left unclaimed. (Granite United Way)
January 11, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. – It has proven to be a costly tax season habit in the Granite State – local tax filers leave millions of dollars in tax breaks unclaimed when they file their income tax returns, even though they are eligible.

Cary Gladstone, director of asset building at Granite United Way, says the Earned Income Tax Credit is available to low and middle income families who make up to $54,000 a year.

But he says in recent years, a significant proportion of New Hampshire tax filers have not taken advantage of this major tax break.

"Twenty to 25 percent of people who are eligible do not claim that credit,” he explains. “In New Hampshire, where people have claimed an average Earned Income Credit of about $1,900, we're talking about as much as $40 million left unclaimed."

Gladstone says filing for the tax credit will not impact disability claims or New Hampshire residents who provide kinship care. Free tax help is available by calling 211.

Lynn Stanley, executive director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), says families with children may be missing out on the tax credit simply because they're using the wrong tax form.

"I think the challenge is, people who make a certain amount can fill out a 1040-EZ,” she states. “It's very quick, but you can't get the Earned Income Tax Credit if you do a 1040-EZ. You need to do a 1040."

Stanley says her group is working with service providers to get the word out that this tax credit can move families out of poverty – and some families have not filed for years.

"So, if they didn't clam the EITC last year or the year before, they can file an amended return,” she points out. “That could be a significant amount of money put back into the pockets of New Hampshire families."

Stanley adds in recent years, the credit has been enough to help lift thousands of New Hampshire residents out of poverty. Free tax help is also available through New Hampshire Tax Help and the AARP Foundation Tax Aide program.



Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH