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Millions of Americans not claiming tax credits they are owed

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Apr 15, 2022

DENVER — Tax Day is almost here, but many families are not getting the full refund they are owed. The IRS estimates 20% of people eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are not claiming that money and that credit alone could mean thousands of dollars to families across the country.

“You've got to make sure that you get that money that you deserve,” said Xavier Farrell who works with AmeriCorps and prepares taxes for free.

Farrell has helped with all kinds of projects across the country, like stocking food banks and doing fire prevention, but now, their biggest mission: helping families get bigger tax refunds.

Doing this work helped him claim a bigger refund this year too.

“It's a huge help because, you know, I paid my way through school, and so kind of having that extra bump and it takes a little bit of the weight off,” said Farrell.

This year was the first year he could claim the earned income tax credit, a credit for low- and middle-income earners making up to $21,000 for single filers with no qualifying children and up to $57,000 for filers with qualifying children. The refund can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

“The level of awareness is actually pretty low for these things,” said Farrell.

Farrell and his team want to change that because this year more people can get the credit, and the maximum credit amount is nearly tripled.

Check if you qualify with this IRS Tool.

Single filers can get up to $1,502 and filers with kids can be refunded up to $6,728.

The maximum refunds are as follows:

  • 1 qualifying child: $3,618
  • 2 qualifying children: $5,980
  • 3 + qualifying children: $6,728

For the first time, the credit is now available to both younger workers and senior citizens.

The Treasury Inspector General found about 5 million eligible Americans aren’t claiming these credits, leaving $7 billion unclaimed.

“That's a lot of money left on the table,” said Isabel Dickson, the economic mobility specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health. Dickson said even if you already filed this year, there’s still a chance to claim the credit.

“Generally, you can file up to three years of back tax returns. So back to tax year 2018,” said Dickson.

She encourages everyone to file an amendment to claim past credits too. Tax help can be found here on Get Ahead Colorado’s website.

“Tax refunds can really make a difference, and when families have the financial resources they need, parents and children can thrive. They have better health outcomes, and kids can do better in school,” said Dickson.

With a quick search for the IRS VITA Site tool, you can find free local help to claim their tax credits too. Farrell hopes more people will take advantage of the help available because he’s seen the real change a refund can make.

“Seeing the excitement in their faces and knowing like, you know, that that was going to help take some of the burdens off. It was, it was nectar for the soul. That's the only way that I can describe it,” said Farrell.

If you need more time to file or want more time to ask for help on your taxes, you can file an extension, which will give you several more months to properly file your taxes and claim the refund you are owed.