For many Americans struggling to make ends meet, tax time can be especially stressful. Consumer Reports has some important advice about a tax credit that often goes unclaimed but could help those who need it most.
A financial counselor helped Ivonne Mejias file her taxes. She was able to get a refund of thousands of dollars last year by taking advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. She said the refund made a big difference.
"It helped a lot. I work hard, but I don't make that much money, so it was a big deal for me," Mejias said.
Consumer Reports' Tobie Stanger says millions of Americans qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit on their yearly tax return.
"If you're a lower or moderate-income worker, this can give you back some or all of the money you've paid in taxes. You might even get back more. This can really impact your tax refund," said Tobie Stanger, Money Editor, Consumer Reports.
The amount of Earned Income Tax Credit you can collect depends on your income, marital status and how many children you have.
A single person without any children making almost $15,000 a year can get more than $500. A married couple with three children making almost $50,000 a year could get more than $6,000 back.
But too few people know about this tax credit.
"One in five households in the United States that is eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit does not claim it," Stanger said.
For those unsure tax filers, Ivonne's financial counselor, Dulce Medina, has this advice.
"It is actually money that they deserve to get back, that is something available to them, and they should actually claim it," Medina said.
You can find out whether you qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, along with other available credits and deductions, on the IRS's website.
To file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you'll need a Social Security number for you and all of your children. You can get help filing for the credit from any tax-prep website or service.
But if you'd like free in-person help, you can find an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location by going to: IRS.treasury.GOV/freetaxprep.
Twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia have their own EITCs to supplement the federal credit. You can find out if your state offers one by going to www.cbpp.org.
All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Consumer Reports: Have you claimed your Earned Income Tax Credit?
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