Too often, hardworking families miss the opportunity to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in federal and state tax credits. These tax credits are in place to help families make their hard-earned dollars stretch just a little further.
Current programs you may qualify for include:
- the Empire State Child Credit, a refundable tax credit worth up to $330 per child for ages 4-16;
- the Child and Dependent Care Credit, a tax credit based on a sliding income scale for working parents who pay for child care or those who live with a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care;
- the federal Child Tax Credit, a non-refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 per child under the age of 17, or the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit;
- the Real Property Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit worth up to $375 for eligible homeowners and renters; and
- the New York City School Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit of up to $125 for qualifying taxpayers.
Additionally, if eligible, you may be able to recoup portions of the income tax that were withheld from your paycheck throughout the year. In fact, through an often overlooked tax break called the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), eligible taxpayers can get extra cash back from the IRS, New York State or New York City governments. These savings help many families cover their monthly bills and allow them to put some money away for the future.
To qualify for the New York State and federal EITC, you must:
- have worked full or part time at some point during the calendar year;
- have income below $38,511 ($43,941 if married) with one child;
- have income below $43,756 ($49,186 if married) with two children;
- have income below $46,997 ($52,427 if married) with three or more children; or
- be a worker between the ages of 25 and 65, earning less than $14,590 ($20,020 if married) with no children.
To be eligible for the New York City EITC, in addition to the above requirements, you must be a full or part-year resident of New York City, claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and file a New York State income tax return.
Tax season doesn’t need to be a stressful time of year, and assistance is available to help you prepare your taxes. The IRS-certified volunteers with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provide free tax preparation services to individuals and families with annual incomes of $53,000 or less. For those 60 years of age and older, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program can also provide assistance at no cost to you. To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, visit irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-
Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep or call 800-906-9887.
I encourage you to set aside some time and check what tax credits you’re eligible for.These tax credits exist for your benefit; if you’re eligible, they can help you lower your taxes and even put money back in your pocket.
To learn more about the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit, visit irs.gov. For information or questions on New York State taxes, the state EITC and New York City tax credits, visit tax.ny.gov. New York City residents may also visit nyc.gov/taxprep for additional assistance.
And, as always, please feel free to contact me about this or any other community issue at 718-931-2620.
Luis R. Sepulveda