FLORENCE, S.C. – A new organization in South Carolina has made a mission out of making sure that those who are eligible take advantage of the earned income tax credit on their 2019 federal and state taxes.
Working Hero South Carolina is a statewide campaign led Rania Jamison. The organization is an offshoot of a California-based organization founded by Joe Sanberg that has helped 2 million people receive more than $4 billion in state and federal taxes.
“Working Hero Action was founded in California by a rags-to-riches guy named Joe Sanberg,” said Jamison, the state director of Working Hero South Carolina. “He has become a millionaire, but he has decided to invest money into working to end poverty. He believes that the best way to do that is to elevate the earned income tax credit.”
Jamison said the organization has two goals: make sure people take advantage of the earned income tax credit if they’re eligible.
According to a news release provided by Working Hero South Carolina, at the federal level, 1 in 5 people eligible for the earned income tax credit don’t claim it.
Nationwide, there was approximately $50 billion in unclaimed earned income tax credits, S.C. Rep. Terry Alexander said.
“In South Carolina, our numbers are really towering,” Jamison said.
At the federal level, an estimated 119,000 South Carolina residents who are eligible fail to take advantage of the tax credit. This leaves $309 million in unclaimed credits.
Jamison said the top three reasons why people fail to take advantage of the tax credit are that filers don’t know it exists, they don’t know they’re eligible for the credit or they don’t earn enough income to be required to file taxes.
To be eligible for the credit, one must fall beneath a certain level of income depending upon how many dependents one has.
“So if you think about somebody who’s making less than $20,000 per year, they know that they don’t have that tax burden, but they have money in the system,” Jamison said.
Jamison said that one does not have to have a child to claim the credit. She said the top-of-the-line eligibility for a single filer was around $54,000 and for a married couple was $98,000.
Alexander said if the additional funds were claimed, it could provide an economic stimulus.
Jamison added that the additional funds could help those struggling to pay their bills as well.
One way the organization works to help those eligible for the credit is to make sure those eligible aren’t taken advantage of when they file their taxes.
“Especially when you think about people who are struggling with their basic necessities,” Jamison said. “Many of them are actually taken advantage of when it comes to filing their taxes. So you have folks in the little dark, back corner rooms or furniture companies or even car lots who are like just bring us your W-2 and we’ll figure it out.”
Jamison said there are two free resources for filers: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at Francis Marion University and SC Thrive. She added that SC Thrive can work on returns three previous years.
South Carolina adopted the earned income tax credit in 2017 becoming the 27th state in the nation offer an earned income tax credit on top of the federal credit. The credit is nonrefundable at the state level. The credit became law on July 1, 2017 after the General Assembly overrode the veto of Gov. Henry McMaster on May 10, 2017.
At the federal level, the earned income tax credit was enacted in 1975. It is credited as the third-largest social welfare program in the United States after Medicaid and food stamps.
Alexander said the earned income tax credit was a major way of eradicating poverty.
One can find out more information about the Earned Income Tax Credit by texting Working Hero Action at 31996.
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