SHAMOKIN - People who work and earn less than $50,270 from wages, self-employment or farming may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, and free help preparing their tax return.

Today marks the seventh national EITC Day, a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about EITC and free tax preparation sites.

Although an estimated four out of five eligible workers and families get the credit, one in five still miss EITC, either because they don't claim it when filing or don't file a tax return. This is money that can make a difference. Last year, the credit returned close to $62 billion dollars to more than 27 million workers.

Workers who qualify for EITC could receive larger refunds. It can mean up to $475 in EITC for people without children, and up to $5,891 for those with three or more qualifying children. EITC varies by income, family size and filing status and the average EITC amount last year was $2,200.

With the exception of some disability income, people must work to qualify for EITC. They earned it. Now they must file, claim it and get it. EITC is a valuable but complex tax break for working families but free help is available from IRS-certified volunteers.

For sites in Northumberland County, Montour and Columbia counties, call 644-6575, extension 171, or toll free at 1-866-944-9518, extension 171.

Workers should come prepared to a volunteer site with the following:

- A valid driver's license or other photo ID card.

- Social Security cards, a Social Security number (SSN) verification letter or the Individual Taxpayer Identifying Number (ITIN) for all persons listed on the return.

- Birth dates for all persons listed on the return.

- All income statements: Forms W-2 and 1099, Social Security, unemployment and other statements, such as pensions, stocks, interest and any documents showing taxes withheld.

- All records of expenses, such as tuition, mortgage interest or real estate taxes.

- Copies of last year's state and federal tax returns, if available.

- Bank routing numbers and account numbers to direct deposit of any refund.

- Dependent child care information: Name and address of who you paid and either the caretaker's SSN or other tax identification number

- Both spouses to sign forms to e-file (electronically file) a joint tax return

"EITC is a financial boost for working people and their families, and it allows more funds to flow into our community. It's money that can make lives a little easier," said Sandy Winhofer, site coordinator for VITA program, Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc., a Community Action agency.