With tax season kicking into high gear, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles launched the 2011 Greater Los Angeles Earned Income Tax (EITC) Credit Campaign to encourage qualifying Angelenos to file for the EITC. The launch took place at one of the highest-performing FamilySource Centers in the City--the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in South Los Angeles. The campaign is committed to helping working families save money by providing free income tax preparation and access to tax credits. Trained, certified volunteers prepare income taxes at no charge to families throughout Los Angeles County. This service is provided at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Centers located in the 21 FamilySource Centers in the City of Los Angeles. "No hard-working family should ever lose the chance to get ahead--especially when resources exist and assistance is available," Villaraigosa said during the press conference. "We want to ensure that all qualifying households reap the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit and take advantage of the free tax assistance services being provided." The EITC program was created by Congress in 1975 to ease the tax burden on certain working families, offset a portion of their living expenses, and provide an incentive to work. It has since become one of the largest anti-poverty programs for working families, bringing an estimated $1.5 billion in refunds to low-income families and the local economy in Los Angeles County.During the 2010 tax season, volunteers provided free tax preparation services to nearly 39,500 households, helping them claim over $36.8 million in total tax refunds and save approximately $6 million in tax preparation fees. $13.5 million of the total refunds were through the EITC. During this upcoming filing season, qualifying individuals and families can reclaim up to $5,666 on their tax returns."EITC is a vastly underutilized benefit, with up to 20 percent of eligible taxpayers leaving $250 million in credits left on the table. At the same time, costs for basic needs like housing and food is on the rise," said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "For more information on the Earned Income Tax Credit, go to www.greaterlaeitc.org.