IRS tax deadline fast approaching: Don't forget these important credits

Madeleine List
McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

If you’re a taxpayer, you have a few extra days to file this year. That means more time to make sure you get the most out of your tax return.

Tax Day is usually on April 15, but this year, it falls on April 18 because of the Emancipation Day holiday, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The holiday is recognized in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the freeing of enslaved people in the U.S. While Emancipation Day is on April 16 — a Saturday — it’s observed on the closest weekday.

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Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19 to file because of the Patriots’ Day holiday observed on April 18 in those states, according to the IRS.

Anyone needing an extension to file their income tax returns must request one by April 18 or a face a failure to pay penalty, according to the IRS.

As you get ready to file, don’t forget about these important tax benefits that could boost your refund.

The Child Tax Credit

This is a refundable tax credit for families with qualifying children, according to the IRS.

Under the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed into law in March 2021, the credit was expanded from $2,000 per child under 6 in 2020 to $3,600 per child under 6 in 2021. For each child ages 6 to 16, the credit increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Parents can also claim a $3,000 credit for each 17-year-old child. Previously, 17-year-olds were not considered qualified children.

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The IRS sent out monthly checks for half of each eligible family’s Child Tax Credit sum. Parents can claim the remaining half of their sum on their 2021 tax returns.

Single parents earning up to $75,000 a year and couples earning up to $150,000 a year were eligible for the full credit. Benefits were then phased out for higher incomes.

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

This credit is intended to help offset the cost of childcare or dependent care used while working, looking for a job or attending school, according to the IRS.

The American Rescue Plan also expanded this benefit, making more Americans eligible for it. Families who earn $125,000 or less can claim the full credit.

The credit is now potentially refundable, meaning you don’t have to owe taxes to the government to claim the credit. It is also larger. Families can now receive up to $4,000 for one dependent and up to $8,000 for two or more dependents. Previously, the credit was about $1,050 for one dependent and $2,100 for two or more, according to ChildTrends.org.

Earned Income Tax Credit

This is a tax credit for low-to moderate-income Americans that can help reduce the amount of taxes they owe or increase their refund.

To claim the credit, taxpayers must meet a series of qualifications, including working and earning less than $57,414, according to the IRS. You also must have a valid Social Security number. To find out if you qualify, visit this website.

Recovery Rebate Credit

This credit can help those who didn’t receive everything they were eligible for during the three waves of federal stimulus payments given to Americans to help with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who did not receive everything they were eligible for in the third stimulus check can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 tax return, according to the IRS.

Those who didn’t get everything they were owed in the first and second round of stimulus payments must file a 2020 tax return to claim your Recovery Rebate Credit from that tax year.