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Tax Credits Can Help Families Struggling During Pandemic

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Last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit along with the Child Tax Credit lifted 148,800 Colorado families out of poverty. (Eric Ward/Wikimedia Commons)
Last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit along with the Child Tax Credit lifted 148,800 Colorado families out of poverty. (Eric Ward/Wikimedia Commons)
January 26, 2021

DENVER -- Coloradans who lost jobs or income during the coronavirus pandemic may qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when they file their 2020 taxes.

Kelly Wagoner, director of the group Get Ahead Colorado, said it's an opportunity to get as much as $6,600 dollars into the pockets of struggling families earning $57,000 a year or less.

Even before the health emergency, one in four eligible families in Colorado missed out on getting the federal cash-back refund.

"We want to make sure that families, especially during these hard economic times as a result of the pandemic, that they are getting as much cash back as due them," Wagoner emphasized. "And they can do that by filing their taxes for free and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit."

Colorado matches 10% of your total federal EITC refund, and a new state law extends that match to workers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

Single or married taxpayers with children who earned more than $2,500 dollars last year also qualify for the Child Tax Credit, worth up to $1,400 refund dollars per child.

But Wagoner noted you do have to file your taxes to get a refund. There's a free online calculator to find out if you qualify for the EITC at GetMyRefundCO.org, or call 211 where you can also get help filing your return.

The IRS said taxpayers who claim the Earned Income or Child tax credit may experience a refund hold until at least mid-February.

Wagoner added people should read the fine print if they choose a paid tax preparer to file their 2020 return, which costs $200 on average, if they offer money up front against your refund.

"If they are offering any kind of refund, anticipation loan or credit, that is going to be deducted from whatever refund you are due," Wagoner confirmed. "And so we want to make sure that people are getting all of the money that is due to them back in their pockets."

Households that earned $57,000 or less in 2020 also can get free help to file taxes from IRS-certified tax preparers, who are trained to tap tax credits.

If you made $72,000 or less, you can file your taxes for free online using a computer or use a smartphone to upload tax documents to a secure site. You'll get a call back from a tax pro who will review and file your tax return remotely.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO