IRS alerts low-income Americans to claim expiring tax credits

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The push comes as Code for America updated its tax tool to simplify the process for claiming the earned income tax credit.

The IRS is reaching out to low-income Americans to encourage them to file 2021 tax returns – a step required to access a list of benefits delivered through the tax code, like the expanded child tax credit and earned income tax credit.

The agency announced on Thursday that it will send letters to over 9 million people identified as people who aren’t typically required to file taxes because of low incomes.

The tax agency's free file portal will be open to accomodate tax filers through November 17, 2022.

These notifications are part of an “ongoing effort,” the agency says, to push people not normally required to file taxes to file so that they get these benefits, many of which have been expanded by Congress in recent years.

“We encourage people who haven’t filed a tax return yet for 2021 to review these options. Even if they aren’t required to file a tax return, they may still qualify for several important credits,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement. “We don’t want people to overlook these tax credits.”

As FCW recently reported, the tech nonprofit Code for America recently updated its tool for non-filers to claim the expanded child tax credit to also allow Americans claim the earned income tax credit.

The tool helps people submit simplified returns with only the minimum information needed to access benefits. The Code for America option to claim the earned income tax credit will be online through November 15, 2022.

“To the extent possible and appropriate, the Treasury and the administration engage with nonprofits to support their efforts,” a Treasury spokesperson told FCW when asked about the nature of the collaboration. “We appreciate Code for America’s efforts to help taxpayers, in particular lower income taxpayers, access the tax system and the benefits they are entitled to.”

An agency spokesperson for the IRS confirmed to FCW that the Code for America tool comes from a partnership between the nonprofit, White House and Treasury Department, not the IRS.

The tax agency's government child tax credit website links to the Code for America tool and points individuals to the IRS no-cost option for many Americans to file full tax returns for free. The Free File program, which the IRS has run since the early 2000’s alongside private tax prep companies. Although most Americans are eligible to use the program, few do, and at least six companies have left the program since 2016.