— Low-income families who typically receive the
federal earned income tax credit — and a tax refund of
several thousand dollars — will have to wait longer
than usual this year to receive those funds, officials
to a law that was enacted at the end of 2015, the IRS
will hold the refunds of taxpayers claiming the EITC
until Feb. 15, and is telling those who claim the credit
not to expect a refund until the week of Feb. 27.
allows additional time to help prevent revenue lost due
to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated
wages and withholdings. The IRS will hold the entire
refund," according to a statement on the agency’s
tax credit is available to working families who have
yearly incomes below about $39,300 to $53,500 (the exact
amount depends on their marital status and number of
IRS says it still expects to issue most refunds in less
than 21 days, after Feb. 15.
the Pittsburgh area, the United Way of Southwestern
Pennsylvania and partner agencies assisted more than
10,000 households in the region file their taxes for
free and access the earned income tax credit and other
related credits such as the child tax credit, said
Kiandra Foster, program manager, United For Families at
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
low-income working families the opportunity to file
their taxes for free and letting them know about tax
credits they are eligible for ensure "that they are
getting every dollar back that they can," Foster
said, as they avoid going to a paid tax preparer.
Just Harvest, one of the largest tax sites in the United
Way’s coalition, is sending out postcards to its
previous tax clients to let them know about the delay,
said Kristie Weiland Stagno, tax campaign coordinator
for Just Harvest.
is going to be a hardship for people," she said.
"People come in here already knowing where they
need to spend their refund. They owe rent, they owe
utilities, they have bills."
the Human Services Center Corporation outside
Pittsburgh, the nonprofit makes a point of also
assisting tax filers with other issues, such as
referrals for health insurance coverage, financial
counseling, credit counseling and rental assistance
not just doing a tax return, but really helping people
to improve their financial stability," said Arwen
Lavengood Davis, operations and special projects
tax credit is considered by many researchers and
anti-poverty advocates to be an effective anti-poverty
program. It began in the 1970s and tends to enjoy
bipartisan support because it both encourages work and
assists low-income workers, said Chuck Marr, director of
federal tax policy at Center on Budget and Policy
is a major benefit to working class people," Marr
the 2015 tax year, the average EITC was $3,186 for a
family with children, according to the Center.