For families who have been struggling to make ends meet due to tough economic times, one potential bright spot this tax filing season could be the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

A recent announcement from the IRS notes that the credit has been expanded in the past year so that larger families will be able to qualify for a greater tax benefit. Specifically, a provision in the federal stimulus bill created a new category for families with three or more children, including a higher maximum benefit.

According to the IRS, 24 million people received $50 billion in tax benefits last year, with an average benefit of about $2,000. The 35-year-old credit is also said to be one of the federal government's most significant benefits for working families and taxpayers.

"As part of the economic recovery efforts, there have been important changes to expand EITC to benefit taxpayers. Today, more than ever, hard-working individuals and families can use a little extra help. EITC can make the lives of working people a little easier," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

The IRS also reports that about one in four eligible taxpayers fail to claim the credit, which is why it holds an EITC Awareness Day each year to help call attention to it. People who may qualify for the credit should consult with their tax preparer and also consult the IRS Web site for information on income requirements.

Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.