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Nearly half of rural families that receive an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will get an increase in the benefit because of the federal economic stimulus act. A slightly higher percentage of metropolitan EITC recipients will get more money from the benefit this year.

A study by Marybeth J. Mattingly at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire found that of rural families that receive the EITC, 43 percent will get an increase in the size of their tax credit. For suburban families that are eligible for EITC, 45 percent will get an increase, while 47 percent of EITC recipients in the central city will get an increase.

The average increase in EITC will also be a little higher for suburban and urban families. The average increased benefit for rural families will be $115, while the increase for suburban families is $147 and central city families $178. The amount of the tax credit is based on a variety of factors such as the number of children in a family, the size of family income, and the number of earners in a household.

Changes in the EITC program that were included in the stimulus package (officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) will add $3.4 billion to the incomes of poor working families through the EITC program. Of that amount, the report estimates that $566 million will go to rural families. Nationally 34 percent of U.S. families qualify for the benefit, while 39 percent of rural familie