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The Earned Income Tax Credit – A Real Family Benefit

By Stephen Harris for the United Way of Hunterdon County


There is a tax benefit for those that qualify that can put real dollars in your pocket. The Federal earned income tax credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. The amount of EITC benefit depends on your income and number of children in your family. A refundable credit means that the EITC (that you qualify for) is applied to your tax payment, and if there is anything left, this amount is sent to you as a refund.

To qualify you must meet certain guidelines, such as Married Filing Jointly, or Single/Head of Household, and earn no more than a specific income (see table below). For a family with two children who earned less than $45,207, this could mean $5,716 to offset your taxes and/or additional money for your household budget. For a family with 3 or more children, EITC could go as high as $6,444. Real money, real benefit.


Filing Status

Qualifying Children Claimed




Three or more

Single, Head of Household or Surviving Spouse





Married Filing Jointly






In 2017 nearly 576,000 people in New Jersey took this benefit, with an average tax credit of $2,360. To determine if you qualify and the amount of benefit you can receive, visit this simple to use calculator:

However, you must file a tax return and submit a Schedule EIC to take advantage of this benefit. The United Way of Hunterdon County offers free tax preparation; the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The volunteers are trained to help you take advantage of the ETIC program as they review your tax filing information. They will make sure you get the largest refund and, if you qualify, the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Learn more about the United Way and VITA, including how to schedule an appointment with one of our volunteers.