1. Blurb to share on your website, in your newsletter, and on social media

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    Please feel free to cut and paste the copy below to help us spread the word. Filed taxes yet? March is a great month to file and avoid the end-of-season rush If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, March is a great time to do it. Did you make less than $30,000 as an individual or $50,000 as a family? You could qualify for free tax preparation. Below are reasons why filing for free is better. Volunteers are tax experts! Free tax preparation volunteers go through hours of training and are IRS-certified. They’re equipped to make sure you get your maximum refund. Volunteers are tax experts! Free tax preparation volunteers go through hours of training and are IRS-certified. They’re equipped to make sure you get your maximum refund. You keep 100% of your money! Free tax prep filers pocket 100% of their refund instead of having to pay an average of $200 to file taxes with a paid preparer Many free tax prep options! There are more than 250 free tax prep sites across Minnesota. You can find a list of them here: http://bit.ly/mnfreetaxprep. You can also file for free online atwww.myfreetaxes.com. For more information about free tax preparation, tax credits, and a list of items needed for tax preparation, visit the Claim it! website at www.youclaimit.org.
  2. 5 common tax mistakes that can cost you the EITC (a summary)

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    According to the IRS, an estimated 20 to 25% of qualified workers fail to claim the EITC each year. Are you making any of these mistakes on your taxes? It could cost you the EITC. You can click each topic to get more information. Mistake #1: You didn’t file taxes (because you didn’t need to) The EITC can only be claimed by filing a tax return but some workers miss out because they don’t earn enough to be required to file taxes. Let’s be clear, there’s a difference between when you need to file taxes and when you should file taxes. As a general rule, anyone who had taxes taken out of their wages or could qualify for the EITC and other refundable credits should look into filing their taxes. Mistake #2: You didn’t think you were eligible For many people, they might miss out on the EITC because they weren’t eligible last year so they think they aren’t eligible this year. However, if you had any changes to your family size, income, marital status, take another look. You just might be eligible this year. Mistake #3: You previously claimed the EITC without being eligible Never claim the EITC when you’re not supposed to! If the IRS finds that you fraudulently claimed the EITC, you cannot claim EITC for the next 10 years. For those that hire someone to prepare your taxes, it’s important to have an honest tax preparer. If your tax preparer does anything on your tax return that seems like fraud, run – […]
  3. 5 tax mistakes that’ll cost you the EITC: part 5

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    You didn’t claim dependents that you could have It might seem like common sense to claim your own child, but for some non-traditional families, the lines on who counts can get a bit blurry. And that’s how some families can miss out on the EITC. Who should watch out Grandparents, uncles, aunts, foster parents, step-parents, and others taking care of children should take notice. For the EITC, the following children might be eligible to be claimed as a dependent: Your son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, foster child (placed by court or an authorized placement agency) or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchild Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew Secondly, any claimed child dependents for the EITC must meet the IRS’s definition of a qualifying child. Because rules on claiming dependents on your tax return can be complicated, we always recommend talking to a tax professional if you’re ever unsure about if you can claim someone or not. Additional information for non-traditional families can be found on the eitcoutreach.org site.
  4. 5 tax mistakes that’ll cost you the EITC: part 4

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    Mistake 4: You didn’t take disability rules into consideration If you have, or your spouse or a child on your tax return has a disability, it could affect your eligibility for the EITC in a number of ways. Disability payments The IRS considers disability retirement benefits as earned income until you reach minimum retirement age. In contrast, Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI, or military disability pensions are not considered earned income. So depending on the kind of disability payment you receive, your income might be eligible to be calculated for the EITC. Claiming a disabled child Normally, you can only claim a child dependent for the EITC if s/he was younger than 19 (or under 24 if s/he’s a full-time student). But if you are claiming a child with a disability, there is no age limit as long as the child meets the IRS definition of “permanently and totally disabled”: Not being able to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental condition; and A physician must certify the condition has lasted or is expected to last continuously for at least 12 months or to result in death Real-life example We had a customer whose daughter was 33, and normally couldn’t be claimed as a dependent for the EITC. However, her daughter was considered disabled under the IRS definition and the mother was able to claim her adult daughter for the EITC. If you have questions about how disability can affect your tax return, learn more at […]
  5. 5 tax mistakes that’ll cost you the EITC: part 3

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    Mistake 3: You previously claimed the EITC without being eligible Never claim the EITC when you’re not supposed to! If the IRS finds that you fraudulently claimed the EITC, you cannot claim EITC for the next 10 years. For those that hire someone to prepare your taxes, it’s important to have an honest tax preparer. If your tax preparer does anything on your tax return that seems like fraud, run – not walk – far, far away to a more honest one! What if I didn’t know I did a mistake? Even if you don’t intend to commit tax fraud, you’re not off the hook for not understanding tax rules. If IRS ever denies your EITC claim due to “reckless or intentional disregard of the EITC rules,” you will not be able to claim EITC for the next 2 years. Get professional help for free If you need help finding a honest, professional tax preparer, consider visiting a free tax preparation site in Minnesota. Most EITC eligible taxpayers are eligible to receive free tax help. If you have questions, you can also contact us by our contact form or Facebook.
  6. 5 tax mistakes that’ll cost you the EITC: part 2

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    Mistake 2: You didn’t think you were eligible For many people, they might miss out on the EITC because they weren’t eligible last year so they think they aren’t eligible this year. However, if you had any changes to your family size, income, marital status, take another look. You just might be eligible this year. Taxpayers without children can still claim the EITC One of the biggest misconceptions about the EITC is thinking it is only for people with children. That’s not necessarily true. Although they get a smaller refund, single workers without children making less than $13,980 in 2012 can qualify for up to $475 from the EITC. For married taxpayers without children, they can get the EITC as long as the household income is less than $19,190. Moderate income taxpayers can claim the EITC, too Another big misconception is that the EITC is only for low-income people. In reality, the EITC helps low- to middle-income workers. As an example, if a married couple with two kids made $42,000 last year, they could get an estimated $1,082 from the EITC. Remember, you can always check to see if you qualify under the 2012 EITC income and dependent guidelines. If you have questions, you can also contact us by our contact form or Facebook.
  7. 5 common mistakes that can cost you the EITC

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    According to the IRS, an estimated 20 to 25% of qualified workers fail to claim the EITC each year. We’ll be listing 5 of the top reasons that you might miss out on the EITC starting with number 1 this week. Mistake #1: You didn’t file taxes (because you didn’t need to) The EITC can only be claimed by filing a tax return but some workers miss out because they don’t earn enough to be required to file taxes. Let’s be clear, there’s a difference between when you need to file taxes and when you should file taxes. As a general rule, anyone that had taxes taken out of their wages or could qualify for the EITC and other refundable credits should look into filing their taxes. Some examples Take Mary, a single mother of two, who made $12,000 – just under the amount where she’s required to file taxes ($12,200 for Head of Household). Even though she isn’t required to file, we estimated that she could get $4,810 from the EITC! Just to drive this point a bit further, let’s take a look at Michael, who is single, has no kids, and made $1,500 last year. Even though he didn’t earn much and doesn’t need to file, he could claim an estimated $117 from the EITC when he does. Finding affordable tax preparation Getting your taxes done shouldn’t be costly. That’s why there are volunteers across Minnesota who help for free. Learn more about free tax prep in Minnesota.
  8. Ask the tax expert – What is earned income?

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    What is earned income? To claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, you need to have earned income. There are two ways to get earned income: You work for someone who pays you or You own or run a business or farm What counts as earned income? Income from a job. Wages, salaries, and tips are considered taxable earned income. Commissions and bonuses are also included as earned income. Union strike benefits Long-term disability benefits paid prior to reaching the minimum age of retirement are considered earned income. Self-employed earnings. If you are self-employed, your net earnings are your earned income. Combat pay. For those in the armed forces, combat pay may be counted as earned income. What doesn’t count as earned income? In general, any money that comes from investments or sources other than active work are considered “unearned.” These include: Pay received for work while an inmate in a penal institution Interests and dividends received Social security money Pensions Unemployement benefits Alimony Child support Still have questions? Ask us anything on Facebook or use our contact form!   Source: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/What-is-Earned-Income%3F