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Point of View: It's your EITC refund, Oklahoma City. Go claim it

Mick Cornett
Mick Cornett

With another tax season upon us, Oklahomans are facing a choice: bring millions of dollars back into their homes and communities or leave that money in Washington, D.C. I think the choice is simple, and I'm seeing an opportunity too big to miss, too important for our communities and for our city, and too simple to pass by. That opportunity is the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, an annual tax refund that puts more money in the pockets of low- and moderate-income earners.

There's a designated day for almost everything it seems, and indeed, today, Jan. 31, is "Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day," so I thought it an opportune time to reach out to Oklahoma City residents and encourage them to claim their refund.

It's relatively simple — or as simple as taxes can be. The EITC is available to individuals between 25 and 64 who earned less than $56,000 in 2019. When you file your taxes, depending on how many children you have, you can often expect a refund between $2,000 and $6,000.

That's a significant amount for anyone, but especially those raising children at that income level. Despite the clear benefits, about 20% of the eligible population doesn't take advantage, and it’s estimated that almost $150 million in federal funds are not returning to our state’s economy because Oklahomans do not claim EITC.

Consider how $2,470, the average Oklahoma EITC refund in 2018, could change your life. Whether you’re trying to pay off student loan debts, have a new mouth to feed or are saving for a car, this is big money that could greatly impact you and your family this year.

This is millions of dollars — set aside by the federal government — that Oklahoma citizens are leaving in Washington instead of claiming and putting to good use for their families and communities. Many people believe they don't earn enough to file taxes, or they struggle to get the credible help they need filing.

If this is you, I hope you'll take advantage of the many resources available to help you get back the money you've earned.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are located around Oklahoma City, and offer tax preparation and financial services at no cost to you. Additionally, there are a variety of online filing sites, which can help you self-file and get answers to your questions. For anyone interested in learning more, OKC Tax Help is a new and local initiative created to help working families get the money they’re owed. You can learn more about EITC and find a list of the VITA sites open in Oklahoma City by visiting OKCTaxHelp.org.

I’m committed to seeing this city grow, and elevating the lives of our citizens. I encourage you to learn more about EITC this tax season and reach out to this accessible network of free tax help. Oklahoma, you worked hard in 2019 and you deserve your refund. Now, go get it.

Cornett is a businessman and the former mayor of Oklahoma City.

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