What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a way for low-income working people to get money back from the federal government. Even workers whose earnings are too small to owe income tax can get the EITC! To get it, you need to file a federal tax return and send it to the IRS.
Massachusetts also has an Earned Income tax credit (EIC), to help low-income working people get money back from the state government. To get the credit, you need to file a state tax return and send it to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
You may be able to get money back from both the federal and state governments by filing your taxes and claiming these credits.
How much money can I get?
If you had no children living with you in 2008, you can get up to $438.
If you had one child living with you in 2008, you can get up to $2,917.
If you had two or more children living with you in 2008, you can get up to $4,824.
If you get the federal credit, the state of Massachusetts will send you a credit also. It will be 15% of the money that you get from the federal government.
For example, if you get $438 from the federal government, the state will send you another $66.
Can I get these tax credits?
You should be able to get the Earned Income Tax Credit if you worked full-time or part-time in 2008 and:
- In 2008, you were between the ages of 25 and 64, you did not have any children living with you, and you earned less than $12,880.
- In 2008, you had one child living with you and you earned less than $33,995
- In 2008, you had two or more children living with you and you earned less than $38,646.
Those are the amounts for single adults. If you are married and filing jointly, add $3,000 to each of the numbers above.
To get a higher credit because a child lived with me, how young does the child have to be?
Generally, the child had to be under 19 years old in 2008.
but a full-time student counts if he or she was under 24 years old in 2008.
also, children who are permanently and totally disabled count no matter what age they are-- even if they are adults.
What if I am not a U.S. citizen? Can I still get these credits?
If you qualify for the credits but you are not a US citizen, you can still get these credits if you, your spouse, and any child that you claim have a valid Social Security Number.
How long will it take to get the money?
You may get the money as soon as 7-10 days after you file.
Will the money count against my public benefits, like welfare or SNAP/Food Stamps?
No. It will not count against welfare, SNAP/Food Stamps, SSI, Medicaid, or public housing. But some benefits programs may have rules about how long you can keep it in your bank account without spending it.
Can I get free help filing my taxes and getting the money for these credits?
Yes. There is a program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) which can help you fill out all the paperwork for free.
Search by zip code for a free tax clinic near you, or call 1-800-829-1040.
What if I file my tax return late?
You should be able to get the credits even if you file late, but in some cases you may have to pay a penalty for filing late. If you can not file your tax return by April 15, 2009, talk to a tax preparer to find out what to do. You can talk to one for free at a free tax clinic near you.