“How can I get help filing my taxes and be sure that I get all the tax credits that I qualify for?” — Rita from Corpus Christi, TX
While tax time can be stressful for many of us, it is also a great opportunity to get money back and boost your finances. To make the most of your tax refund this year, be sure to take advantage of free and low-cost services to file your taxes, and claim all of the credits for which you are eligible.
Get Free Help Filing Your Taxes
According to the International Revenue Service (IRS), more than 80 percent of taxpayers pay agencies to prepare their taxes or purchase tax preparation software. That is money you can use to pay bills and save for future expenses such as retirement or education.
If you make $49,000 or less, you are eligible to go to your nearest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site where you can meet with a trained VITA volunteer who will prepare your taxes for free. Many IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites have also incorporated asset planning so you and your family can learn money management and financial planning skills to spend your refund wisely.
If you make $58,000 or less, check out the IRS Free File option where you can e-file your federal return at no cost.
Claim Your Tax Credits
Did you know that if you earned around $49,000 or less, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? The EITC is a refundable federal tax credit for people who work full or part time but earn low or moderate wages, and can help you earn a tax credit worth up to around $5,700.
In addition to seeing if you qualify for the EITC, make sure to ask yourself these questions before you file your taxes this year:
- Do you have children? Working parents can claim up to $1,000 for each child under 17 with the Child Tax Credit (CTC). If you have been working and paying for child care, the Child and Dependent Care Credit can help you cover those expenses as well.
- Are you a student or have students in your household? The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Credit are available to students to help cover many education expenses..
- Have you purchased a home in the past year? Make sure to claim Homebuyer Credit that can be worth up to $8,000 for first-time home owners and $3,250 for married individuals filing separately.
- Are you saving for your future? If you make eligible contributions to a qualified IRA, 401(k) or other retirement plans, you may be eligible for the Savers Credit that is worth up to $1,000 or $2,000 if filing jointly.
- Are you just learning about tax credits? Don’t forget to claim your EITC and CTC refunds for up to three previous years!
To check if you qualify for EITC and other tax credits, visit the IRS’s web site at www.irs.gov/eitc.
If you or a friend needs free tax preparation services, please call your local Goodwill agency or the IRS VITA hotline at (800) 906-9887. Good luck!