Consumer Reports: Earned income tax credits

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There's a tax credit that often goes unclaimed but could help those who need it most. (WPVI)

For many Americans struggling to make ends meet, tax time can be especially stressful. But there is some important advice for those of you who have yet to file your tax returns.

There's a credit that often goes unclaimed but could help those who need it most.

A financial counselor helped Ivonne Mejias file her taxes. She was able to get a refund of thousands of dollars last year by taking advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. She said the refund made a big difference.

"It helped a lot. I work hard, but I don't make that much money, so it was a big deal for me," said Mejias.

Consumer Reports' Tobie Stanger says millions of Americans qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit on their yearly tax return.

"If you're a lower or moderate-income worker, this can give you back some or all of the money you've paid in taxes. You might even get back more. This can really impact your tax refund," said Stanger.

The amount of Earned Income Tax Credit you can collect depends on your income, marital status, and how many children you have.

A single person without any children making almost $15000 dollars a year can get more than $500 dollars.

And a married couple with three children making almost $50,000 dollars a year could get over $6,000 dollars back.

But too few people know about this tax credit.

"One in five households in the United States that is eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit does not claim it," said Stanger.

And for those unsure tax filers, Ivonne's financial counselor, Dulce Medina, has this advice.

"It is actually money that they deserve to get back, that is something available to them, and they should actually claim it," said Medina.

To file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you'll need a Social Security number for you and all of your children.

You can get help filing for the credit from any tax-prep website or service. But if you'd like free in-person help, you can CLICK HERE to find an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location.

Also, if you live in New Jersey or Delaware, there's even more good news. Those states have their own EITCs to supplement the federal credit so you could get even more money back.

CLICK HERE for more information on state-earned income tax credits.
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