Most improper EITC payments are made in error, not as a result of fraud [Letter]

Letter writer Mark Campbell recently referred to improper Earned Income Tax Credit payments as "fraud" ("Want to expand the EITC? Cut fraud first," July 30).

While there's no arguing that the number of such payments is alarmingly high, most are made in genuine error rather than as a result of deliberate fraud.

The EITC phases in and out at varying income levels, and also varies depending on marital status and number of children as well. That can cause confusion about who is eligible and how big a credit they can claim.

This does not mean we should penalize the hard-working, low-income families that depend on the credit by not increasing their benefit. If anything, the high number of improper payments illustrates a need for high-quality taxpayer services to ensure that only eligible workers and their families receive the EITC — and at the correct amount.

Unfortunately, recent cuts to the IRS budget have compromised taxpayer assistance programs and weakened enforcement of regulations on paid tax preparers, many of whom help low-income workers collect credits like the EITC.

Allowing sufficient resources to improve taxpayer services would greatly reduce the number of EITC payments made in error and ensure that the credit is used only to help qualifying individuals make ends meet.

Lauren Pescatore, Arlington, Va.

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