The Medford IRS office will open its doors two Saturdays this month to provide assistance specifically for taxpayers qualified to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Medford IRS office will open its doors two Saturdays this month to provide assistance specifically for taxpayers qualified to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

IRS employees will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at the office, 960 Ellendale Drive, in addition to their regular weekly hours.

The EITC is a refundable credit for taxpayers whose earned income ranges from $12,880 for a single filer to $41,646 for a married couple filing jointly with two or more children. Filers must have valid Social Security cards. The EITC can increase tax refunds, reduce the amount of taxes due or create a refund even if no federal income taxes were withheld.

"Full service will be provided for those qualified to claim the EITC," said Bill Brunson, IRS media spokesman. "It's not that the doors aren't open to everyone, but these Saturday hours are open to focus on those who qualify."

Twenty to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit each year, which can be as much as $4,824 this year, said Brunson.

By June 2007, 1,831,673 Oregonians had filed income tax returns. Of that number, 232,474 received a total of $412,909,251, or an average EITC of $1,776.

"The average Earned Income Tax Credit is approximately $1,900 (for the nation)," Brunson said.

Brunson said those who qualify should bring in Social Security cards for themselves and all those claimed on the return, picture identification, W-2 forms, 1099 or 1098 forms, a copy of their 2007 tax return and any other information regarding their 2008 income and expenses. If electronically filed, the refund could come as early as 10 days later. If a paper return is filed, taxpayers can expect the refund about six weeks later.

Brunson said many people are not aware the EITC is available to them.

"Because of that percentile of taxpayers that qualify but fail to claim, the IRS is looking at this as an awareness item," Brunson said.

Teresa Beskow is a Southern Oregon University intern. Reach her at 776-4464 or at intern1@mailtrbune.com.