Earned Income Tax Credits and Stimulus Checks Are Made Possible Through Our Free Tax Service

June 30, 2020

Our NeighborWorks Umpqua Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has established a new drop-off procedure for those who still need to have their taxes prepared. Our free tax service encourages as many people as possible in Southern Oregon to receive their Earned Income Tax Credit. This year, filing is even more critical, as for some, it is a prerequisite to receiving the COVID-19 CARES stimulus check.

The tax filing ensures everyone eligible gets their Earned Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), is a benefit for working people with low to moderate-income. To qualify, you must meet specific requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. EITC is a refundable credit, meaning that it reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund.

According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, when Oregon has low EITC participation, its economy suffers. The EITC adds dollars to the Oregon economy by giving working people more money to spend. Historically, EITC participation has been in the 70-percentile range, which translates to over $100M in loss of economic activity in the state. We hope to increase the number of participants in the EITC by helping individuals file their taxes.

Filing taxes this year is especially important even if you do not usually file taxes or are not working as it is also a way to receive the COVID-19 stimulus check, also known as the Economic Impact Payment. The receipt of a check requires the filing of taxes. For an individual, this could be $1200, or for a family of four, it could be $3400. Those experiencing homelessness may also qualify to receive a stimulus check.

Many people are afraid of the concept of “big government,” including the IRS, let alone the complex process of filing taxes. Guiding people through the process of getting their taxes done can bring them comfort, and this makes the job of volunteering with the VITA program very satisfying. Also, many people that do not file taxes are the ones that do not make a lot of money. So, eliminating the cost of having taxes prepared helps people keep more of their refunds.

A woman completes her taxes so that she can qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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