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Tax Benefits: Additional Benefits

What additional tax benefits are available to me and my family?

Additional federal and state tax benefits can help you reduce the amount of tax you owe, or, in some cases, you may receive a cash refund on your yearly taxes. These credits can be a valuable way for you and your family to develop savings accounts, create emergency funds, build your assets, or meet other needs.

Normally, refunds from tax credits will not affect your eligibility for other public benefits programs included in this guide. The tax credits included in this guide are (1) the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); (2) the Illinois EITC; (3) the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit; and (4) the federal Child Tax Credit.

How many additional tax benefits may I receive?

There is no limit on the amount of tax credits for which your family may claim. If eligible, you may claim all of them. What’s important, though, is that you must file a separate IRS 1040 or 1040A (not a 1040EZ) form and attach the required schedule or form for each credit.

1. Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

How can the EITC help me?

The EITC is designed to boost your wages. It can be worth up to several thousand dollars depending on your family size and is available as a refund if you or your family owes no income tax.

Am I eligible?

To qualify, your income must meet certain guidelines that are updated annually. You can find these guidelines online at the IRS website. Below are the limits for 2015:

Number of qualifying children Annual earned income is less than Maximum credit amount
3 or more $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly) $6,242
2 $44,454 ($49,974) $5548
1 $39,131 ($44,651) $3,359
No children (applicant age 25-65) $14,820 ($20,330) $503

Qualifying children must be under 19, or under 24 if also a full-time student at the end of the filing year. Additionally, if your child of any age is totally and permanently disabled he or she can be considered a qualifying child. In most cases, all household members must have Social Security numbers. If you are a worker without a qualifying child, you must be at least 25 to qualify for the EITC.

If you worked in the last three years and you did not receive an EITC payment for any of those three years in which you were eligible, you may still apply for EITC benefits for those years by filing an amended tax return.

You can determine if you qualify and estimate your credit amount by using the online EITC Assistant. The Assistant is available in both English and Spanish.

2. Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit

How can the Illinois EITC help me?

This credit is a state version of the federal EITC and is refundable. As of 2015, the IL EITC is worth five percent of the federal credit. You may receive both the federal and the state tax credits if you are eligible.

Am I eligible?

To determine if you are eligible for the state version of the EITC, use the federal guidelines.

3. Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

How can this tax credit help me?

The federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is designed to help you make up for some of the child and dependent care costs you pay in order to work or actively look for work. The credit is worth up to $1,050 for one child or dependent and up to $2,100 for two children or dependents.

Am I eligible?

In order to qualify, your child or dependent must:

  • Be a dependent child under 13 when the care was provided; or
  • Be your spouse or another dependent person who was not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself and lived with you for more than half the year.

Your child care and dependent care expenses must be work-related, meaning that such expenses allow you to go to work or to look for work; the care can be any type of care—in a center, family day care home, in a church, or in a relative’s or neighbor’s house. 

You may claim up to $3,000 in child care and dependent care expenses for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 in expenses for two or more children or dependents.

4. Federal Child Tax Credit

How can this tax credit help me?

The Child Tax Credit may be claimed in addition to the Child and Dependent Care Credit. The credit is worth up to $1,000 per child, with no maximum number of children you may claim. For example, if you have six children, you may claim a $6,000 credit.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the child care tax credit, you must:

  • Have one or more qualifying child under 17 (age 16 or younger)
  • Have a federal income tax amount greater than zero
  • Have a low income of at least $3,000.

If your family does not owe enough taxes to use all of your credit, you may be eligible for a refund. 

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