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Tax Credits

Lower Your Taxes By Claiming Tax Credits On Form 1040

Ask anyone and they will surely tell you they pay too much in taxes. Fortunately, the federal government and many states have responded by creating a means to rebate taxes in the form of “tax credits.”

Tax credits do not reduce your taxable income; they actually reduce the amount of tax that you owe. In some cases, a tax credit can reduce your tax liability to beyond zero, with the extra amount given to you as a tax refund (known as “refundable credits”).

There are a variety of tax credits available today that are designed to help people qualify for financial relief. Whether you are buying a home for the first time, raising children, pursuing an education for your child or yourself, are elderly or disabled, or you’re simply trying to stretch your dollars, there may be a suitable tax credit for you.

Here are some examples of popular federal tax credits:

Education Tax Credits

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) provides a maximum $2,500 credit for each student pursuing a degree, for up to four years of post-secondary education. The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) offers a tax credit of up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses. Note that the student may elect to receive only one education tax credit and certain income limitations apply. For more information, see Education Tax Breaks for Your Federal Return.

Child Tax Credits

The Child Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit that’s available to any parent with a qualifying child. You may be able to claim this credit if you have a child under age 17 and you meet other IRS requirements. This tax credit is worth up to $2,000 for each qualifying child with a Social Security Number (SSN) issued by the Social Security Administration. For more information, see The Child Tax Credit.

Housing Tax Credits

The popular First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit expired in April 2010. However, if you purchased a home in 2008, 2009, or 2010 and you never claimed this credit, you might still be able to. Note that the home must be your primary residence and eligibility varies depending on the year you purchased.

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program started in 1986 under President Reagan. It provides incentive for private sector investments in affordable rental housing. Like all tax credits, the LIHTC gives you a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your income tax liability.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was created to help workers and families with modest incomes by reducing the amount of tax they owe and, in many cases, providing a tax refund. The amount you are eligible to claim depends on your filing status and the number of qualifying dependents you have. For more information, see What You Should Know About the Earned Income Credit.

Tax Credits for the Elderly and Disabled

If you are age 65 or older, or disabled, you may be able to claim the “Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled” on your federal income tax return. To qualify as disabled for the purposes of this credit, you must be retired, permanently and totally disabled, and receiving taxable disability benefits. The amount for this tax credit ranges between $3,750 and $7,500. For more information, see IRS Publication 524 (Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled).

RELATED: How Tax Credits Can Lower Your Tax Bill

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