The Internal Revenue Service is making special efforts this year to get more lower income taxpayers to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.
As many as one in four eligible taxpayers typically fails to claim the credit, which amounted to an average of $2,000 last year for claimants, the IRS said last week.
Eligible taxpayers who fail to claim the credit fall into several groups, which include rural residents, childless workers, the homeless, non-traditional families and non-English speakers, the agency said.
As a general rule, eligibility guidelines for the Earned Income Tax Credit require an adjusted gross income of less than:
- $38,646 for an individual with two or more qualifying children, or $41,646 for a married couple with two or more children.
- $33,995 for an individual with one child; $36,995 for a married couple with one child.
- $12,880 for an individual with no children; $15,880 for a married couple with no children.
The maximum credit for a family with two or more children is $4,824; with one child, $2,917; with no children, $438.
People who consistently fail to claim the credit are people whose incomes are so low - below $17,000 - that they are not required to file tax returns. By not filing returns, those people fail to claim the credit, which they could receive as a refund, if they filed, the IRS said.
Two other groups that often fail to claim the credit are people who work but don't have children and older people who are raising grandchildren. People older than age 65 are generally not eligible, but can be eligible if they are raising grandchildren.
The IRS is urging taxpayers to seek help in determining if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. They can do that by checking with one of nearly 12,000 volunteer tax preparation sites nationwide. To find a site, go to www.irs.gov
or call (800) 906-9887.
In Iowa last year, 185,000 families claimed around $331 million from the credit; nationally, 24 million taxpayers claimed about $48 billion.