Sen. Brown Urges VA Sec. Shinseki to Alert Veterans of All Available Tax Benefits

On Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, Brown Requests Veterans Affairs to Include EITC in Vets Federal Benefits Publication

WASHINGTON D.C. – On Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Skinseki to include information on federal benefits like the EITC in its Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents publication.

“The Federal Benefits publication is an invaluable resource for our nation’s veterans, helping them navigate and secure veteran-specific benefits which they have earned,” Brown said. “But we must alert these men and women of benefit programs they may not be utilizing simply because they aren’t aware of the programs. I am proud to represent Ohio’s nearly one million veterans and it is our duty to provide them with exhaustive information so they can secure benefits they have earned.”  

Many veterans rely heavily on the Federal Benefits publication. However, without including information on non-veteran specific government benefits like the EITC or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), some veterans and those who assist them could overlook benefit programs available to all Americans.

In Ohio alone, nearly 929,000 taxpayers saved almost $2 billion through this federal credit, but thousands of Ohioans—including veterans— miss out on this credit each year by failing to apply. EITC provides qualifying low-to-moderate income working families with a tax credit of 40 percent for the family’s first $12,750 of income. Notifying veterans of the EITC would help end homelessness among veterans and their families by helping low-income veterans and their families keep more of what they’ve earned. Another federal benefit, LIHEAP, helps individuals and families pay their energy bills— especially important as Ohioans try to fight off the winter cold.  

Brown, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, is committed to increasing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care funding, reducing claims backlogs to assure veterans get their earned benefits, and ensuring veterans have the educational tools to transition to civilian life.


Read full text of the letter below.

January 28, 2011

The Honorable Eric. K. Shinseki
Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20501

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to request that that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) include information about government programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in its Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents publication.  I applaud VA for putting information about the EITC on its website.

Congress passed a two year extension of the EITC in December, 2010, to help alleviate the financial burden faced by many low-to-moderate income families.  The EITC provides qualifying low-to-moderate income working families with a tax credit of 40 percent for the family’s first $12,750 of income.  However, its purpose won’t be served unless qualifying families are made aware of the EITC and include the exemption when filing their tax returns.

Many veterans rely heavily on the Federal Benefits publication, which is a testament to the quality of work produced by the VA.  However, without including information on non-veteran specific government benefits like the EITC or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps individuals and families pay their energy bills, some veterans and those who assist veterans could overlook benefit programs available to all Americans.  Notifying veterans of the EITC opportunity is not only the right thing to do, it may help you in your efforts to end homelessness among Veterans and their families by helping low-income veterans and their families keep more of what they’ve earned.

As the Senate and the Department of Veterans Affairs work together to enhance the services, healthcare, and opportunities available to our nation’s veterans, we must duly ensure that veterans are aware of existing benefits.  Since families can already begin e-filing tax returns, it is critical that our veteran families are notified of this opportunity as soon as possible.

I appreciate your consideration of my proposal to include information on the EITC in the Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents publication and to increase VA outreach efforts for these types of government programs.  

Thank you for your continued service to our nation and its veterans.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

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