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May 18, 2004

Blagojevich announces successes of the Illinois Earned Income Credit
More than $61 million returned to nearly 660,000 families so far Program has already generated millions more for thousands more families than last year

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich, today, announced that the Illinois Earned Income Credit (EIC) has returned more than $61 million to nearly 660,000 low-income working families so far this year.
“The Illinois Earned Income Credit provides targeted tax relief to those who need it most, working families with children who are simply trying to make ends meet,” said Blagojevich.
For the first time, Illinois families were able to receive the full value of their state EIC credit through a tax refund if the credit was more than the taxes they owed, echoing the approach of the federal EIC.  So far this year, 495,959 families have received an extra $12 million because of the change.
“I’m pleased with the success of this program,” said Revenue Director Brian Hamer.  “We have included the Illinois EIC in our free Internet filing program so that taxpayers can get their refunds fast.”
The Department of Human Services (DHS) contracts with the Center for Economic Progress and the Tax Assistance Program to provide free tax preparation for low-income families and individuals. Trained volunteers offer tax assistance, including how to apply for the EIC, at 47 locations in Chicago and throughout the state. An estimated 28,000 returns were prepared this year.
“This year we expanded our funding to support 47 tax assistance sites and conducted an aggressive outreach campaign to make sure that persons who qualify are aware of the important tax preparation services that can help them get the benefits they are entitled to,” said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams.
During tax season, the Department of Revenue included on its Web site a program that allowed taxpayers to locate free tax preparation sites.  The online program was used by more than 7,500 taxpayers.
“Hard-working families and their children are now benefiting from the foresight that Gov. Blagojevich and state legislators showed last year when they improved the Illinois EIC by making it both permanent and refundable,” said Jerry Stermer, president of Voices for Illinois Children, a member of the Make Work Pay coalition that led the effort to make the credit refundable.
The refundable EIC is also expected to provide a boost to Illinois communities as the money received by families circulates through their local economies.
This is the fourth year Illinois has offered an EIC. The Illinois EIC equals 5 percent of the federal EIC and provides a maximum Illinois credit of $210.  The program generated $40 million for 545,000 taxpayers in its first year.


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