Pikes Peak United Way and the Piton Foundation have launched a 2010 tax-credit outreach campaign.

Organizers have estimated that nearly 50,000 families in Colorado lose a total of  $85 million a year by failing to apply for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is available to working people with low- to moderate-incomes. The average earned income refund is $1,700 per eligible taxpayer.

Last year, these refunds returned more than $500 million to Colorado’s economy, benefiting 288,000 families.

In El Paso County, 39,000 families received $73 million in EITC refunds. And in Teller County, 1,400 families received $2.3 million in EITC refunds.

In Colorado Springs last year, 15 percent of eligible families did not apply for the refund, leaving $9 million unclaimed.

“The people who qualify for these tax credits are hard-working people who are out there every day earning a living and trying to raise their children, and they deserve our help in obtaining the tax benefits they are eligible for,” said Michelle Milner, 2-1-1 center manager for United Way. “They are our child-care workers, nursing and teaching assistants, retail clerks and restaurant workers.”

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This tax year, the maximum income to qualify for the credit ranges from $13,460 for a single person, to $35,500 for a single parent with one child, and $48,000 for a married couple with three or more children. The credit can be as much as $5,600 for low-income workers with children.

To learn more about eligibility for tax credits for working families, or to obtain a list of sites that offer free income tax assistance for Colorado taxpayers earning less than $49,000, call 2-1-1 at PPUW or visit the Piton Foundation’s website.