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Tax Tips

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded
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0904EN - Read this before you start on your taxes! Learn about how to get the most money back.


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*You have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017, or, if you file for an extension, until October 16, 2017, to file your 2016 taxes.

Beware of Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL's), Fast Cash Refunds, Express Refunds and Instant Refunds

These are expensive, not much faster, and risky!

  • They are short-term loans with high interest rates (from 40% to 700% APR).

  • They arrive only about a week before IRS refunds.

  • If the IRS denies your tax refund, you still have to pay back the full amount of the loan plus interest!

Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families.  To qualify, both of these must be true for you and any children you claim:

  • You all have valid Social Security numbers

  • You all have lived in the U.S. for at least six months in 2016. 

*To claim the EITC, you must file a tax return. 

You may be eligible for the EITC if your income in 2016 was less than:

  • $48,340 ($53,930 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

  • $45,007 ($50,597 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

  •  $39,617 ($45,207 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

  • $15,010 ($20,600 married filing jointly)with no qualifying children

Also, your investment income must be $3,450 or less for the year. EITC varies from $510 to $6,318, depending on income and family size.  If you are eligible for the EITC and it is more than the amount of taxes you owe, you will get a tax refund after you file a tax return.

Do not spend money to do your taxes!

There are free tax preparation and filing services:

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) offers free tax filing services for low-income people.  For the nearest VITA site, call 1-877-211-9274 or 211.

  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly has free tax help for people age 60 and older.  For the nearest site, call 1-888-227-7669, or visit the AARP website: www.aarp.org.

  • You can file your taxes online free at www.irs.gov (using the free file program) or TaxACT at taxact.com.  Your local library and Employment Security Office (WorkSource) have free internet.




This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. 
This information is current as of February 2017.

© 2017 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)




Last Review and Update: Feb 14, 2017