The Internal Revenue Service re-launched its annual outreach campaign Friday to promote Earned Income Tax Credit Day.

The outreach campaign aims to raise awareness of the EITC, for which millions of people who earned $49,078 in 2011 can qualify.

As part of the campaign, local officials and community organizations across the nation held news conferences and sponsored other events to highlight the benefits of the EITC for low-and moderate-income workers and working families.

The outreach campaign is necessary because one-third of the eligible population changes annually as their financial, marital and parental statuses change, the IRS noted. An estimated four out of five eligible workers and families get the credit, but one in five still miss out on it, either because they don’t claim it, or don’t file a return at all.

"The EITC provides a financial boost for millions of hard-working Americans,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. “But people can easily overlook this important credit, especially if their financial situation has changed. The IRS reminds taxpayers to look into this valuable credit to see if they qualify,”

The EITC varies by income, family size and filing status. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov and answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant. In tax year 2010, almost 26.8 million eligible workers and families received over $59.5 billion total in EITC. The average EITC amount last year was around $2,200.

Workers who earned $49,078 or less from wages, self-employment or farm income last year could receive larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC. That could mean up to $464 in EITC for people without children, and a maximum credit of up to $5,751 for those with three or more qualifying children. Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, eligible people may get a refund from the IRS even if they owe no tax.

To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return, even if they are not required to file, and specifically claim the credit. Those eligible for the EITC have free options to file a tax return to claim the credit, including Free File on IRS.gov, which provides links to several different varieties of free brand-name tax software from vendors who participate in the Free File Alliance.

Free tax preparation sites are also available at more than 12,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites. To locate the nearest VITA site, people can call the IRS at (800) 906-9887. Taxpayers can also find VITA/TCE sites by calling their community’s 211 or 311 line for local services.

EITC-eligible workers can get free assistance in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers around the country. Locations are listed online at www.IRS.gov. Hours and services offered vary by location and should be checked before visiting.

For more information on the EITC, visit www.irs.gov/eitc.

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