It's tax time. That means that you—and some of your friends and family—may be eligible to receive up to $4,824 in Earned Income Tax Credit from the Internal Revenue Service.

EITC is a tax credit for people who work but don't earn high incomes. If you are between the ages of 25 and 65, you may qualify for EITC if you made less than $42,000 in 2008.

In fact if you are eligible, you can claim EITC for three years back. But to receive a check in a few weeks, you must file with the IRS soon.

You don't have to pay someone to prepare the forms for you. Free help is available.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites provide free tax preparation. The sites are located throughout West Virginia during tax season. If you wish, your return can be filed electronically and deposited into your bank account within seven to 10 days.

The IRS estimates that each year eligible West Virginians leave millions of dollars unclaimed.

For eligible families, EITC dollars could be used to pay bills, repair homes and cars, open savings accounts, increase savings and improve lives in many ways, according to Brandy Brabham, an educator with the Calhoun County Office of the West Virginia University Extension Service.

Brabham said that WVU Extension is working with organizations throughout the state to encourage low-wage individuals and families to apply for EITC.

To learn more about EITC and to locate a tax preparation center near you call 2-1-1, which is your toll-free connection to community services in West Virginia.

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