Smart Taxes

Didn’t file taxes? What if the IRS owes you?

Didn’t file taxes? What if the IRS owes you?

Some families that aren’t required to file tax returns because of low incomes might want to file anyway to collect the earned income tax credit. It’s not too late
If you aren’t required to file a federal income-tax return, why bother?

Answer: You might be missing out on a valuable federal program designed to help the working poor.

Welcome to the earned income tax credit, or EITC. It’s known as a “refundable” credit because, unlike many other tax breaks, you can get money from Uncle Sam even if you don’t owe a penny in tax.

But to collect, you have to file a tax return. Even though April 15 has come and gone, it isn’t too late to act.

The amount of the credit varies depending on your income, family size and “filing status” (such as single or married filing jointly). The average credit amount last year was around $2,200, the Internal Revenue Service says.

More than 27 million workers and families received a total of nearly $62 billion for the 2011 tax year. Even so, about one in five of those eligible miss out on this credit, according to IRS estimates.