Do you qualify for a tax credit?

Each year, thousands of hardworking families in the 34th Congressional District and throughout the Los Angeles area lose money they're entitled to because they fail to take advantage of two important tax credits - the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Could you be one of them?As the April 15 deadline approaches for filing your taxes, I encourage you to find out whether you qualify for one or both of these credits. During these challenging economic times, the answer could mean more money in your pocket, even if you don't owe taxes. If your family earned less than $48,279 in 2009, you may be eligible for the EITC. Eligibility for the credit depends on factors such as your total income and family size. For some families, the Earned Income Tax Credit is worth up to $5,657. The EITC is first used to cover any federal taxes owed by an eligible worker. After any tax liability is paid off, tax filers receive all of their remaining Earned Income Tax Credit in the form of a check from the IRS. The Child Tax Credit allows families to claim a credit worth up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under 17. Similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit is first used to reduce or pay off any taxes owed by the family. After that, depending upon a family's income, some filers may also qualify to receive a refund of all or part of any leftover Child Tax Credit funds. By taking advantage of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, eligible families can keep more of their hard earned dollars. Additional eligibility information about both tax credits appears below. Your questions can also be answered by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or by visiting the federal agency's web site at www.irs.gov. Free tax preparation services from trained community volunteers are also available through the "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)" program. To find out if you qualify or for the Los Angeles locations nearest you, please visit www.eitc-la.com or call the 2-1-1 information hotline in Los Angeles County. Seniors can also locate free AARP tax-aide counseling sites in their area by calling 1-888 227-7669. Here are the highlights of the 2009 EITC eligibility requirements: • A taxpayer must provide valid Social Security numbers for everyone listed on the tax return. Social Security numbers issued to non-citizens who have permission to work legally in the United States are also accepted. • Families with one qualifying child in their home who earn less than $40,463 in 2009 (or less than $35,463 for a single parent) are eligible for a federal EITC of up to $3,043. • Families raising two qualifying children in their home who earn less than $45,295 in 2009 (or less than $40,295 for a single parent) are eligible for a federal EITC of up to $5,028. • Families raising 3 or more qualifying children in their home who earn less than $48,279 in 2009 (or less than $43,279 for a single parent) are eligible for a federal EITC of up to $5,657. • Married workers who were not raising children in their home, were between 25 and 64 on December 31, 2009, and who earn less than $18,440 in 2009 (or less than $13,440 if single) are eligible for a federal EITC of up to $457. • Eligible EITC taxpayers who failed to file previously can file amended tax returns for the past three years to collect overdue refunds. The 2009 Child Tax Credit eligibility requirements are as follows: • The taxpayer must have either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS. • The taxpayer must have a qualifying child under the age of 17 who lived with the tax filer for more than half the year in the United States. The child (whether a citizen or non-citizen) must have either a valid Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). • The taxpayer must have earned more than $3,000 in 2009 to receive a CTC "refund." • The CTC is available to married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $110,000, $75,000 for those filing as single, head of household or as a qualifying widow(er) and $55,000 for married couples filing separately. At incomes above these amounts, the benefit of the CTC is reduced. • Eligible CTC taxpayers who failed to file previously can file amended returns for the past three years to collect overdue refunds.

********** Published: March 19, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 48