The Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition has done an impressive job helping individuals and the community.
The Coalition, composed of well over two dozen people representing a wide range of local businesses and organizations, is focused on helping area residents obtain every penny of the federal tax credit they are eligible to receive.
Last year the Coalition encouraged local residents to file the necessary paperwork to receive $9 million from the Earned Income Tax Credit. That was a $1.3 million increase from the previous year.
The Coalition, led by Whitman College professor Noah Leavitt, is hoping to see another $1 million increase from the Earned Income Tax Credit this year. Given the hard work and dedication Leavitt and others put into this endeavor, it's possible - if not likely - such gains will be seen.
The Earned Income Tax Credit was approved by Congress in 1975 as an incentive for people to work rather than go on welfare. The tax credit is available to those with low- or moderate-incomes.
Families with children with annual incomes below $48,000 - depending on the number of children - are generally eligible for the tax credit. Single people with income less than $13,000 and couples with incomes of less than $18,000 might also be eligible for the tax credit.
John Wancheck of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the tax credit helps lift children from working families out of poverty more than any other single program. Without the tax credit, the poverty rate for children would have been nearly a third higher.
The gain for individuals is clear.
But it should also be obvious that having $9 million in this community spent on groceries, cars, appliances and hundreds of thousands of other goods is great for the local economy.
The Internal Revenue Service estimates that up to 25 percent of qualifying workers miss out on the tax credit, which is usually between $2,500 to $3,000 per household.
The main reason workers and their families don't receive this credit is they don't do the proper paperwork. Some people earn so little they aren't legally obligated to file a 1040 form.
But isn't a little paperwork and effort worth $3,000?
Those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit should help themselves and their families by seeking the tax refund they are legally entitled.