Free help to file tax returns, collect credits you may be owed

One out of five people who qualify for a big tax credit fails to claim it, according to the IRS. That's thousands of dollars left on the table.

The Earned Income Tax Credit can give as much as $6,700 to qualifying families.

RELATED: IRS offers advice to avoid tax return delays

Free assistance is available to help taxpayers file their tax returns and claim credits they qualify for, such as the EITC, the balance of the Child Tax Credit, or the last stimulus check, for those who didn't receive one. That could add up to thousands of dollars and pull many families out of poverty.

The IRS offers VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and Tax Counseling for the Elderly.  Taxpayers who earn $58,000 or less, have a disability or are over age 60 qualify for free help.


BakerRipley, AARP, and Entergy Texas also provide trained volunteers to help through the VITA program.  

"With sites that we have, we’ve returned almost $15 million to almost 12,000 residents in southeast Texas, using this program," said Corrin Barrow with Entergy Texas. "It's definitely going to help our low-income customers put more money in their pockets."

Nationwide, the IRS says the EITC credit has lifted more than 5.6 million people, including three million children, above the poverty line.


People with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less can also use Free File, free access to software to file their tax return, which also helps to ensure qualified families collect the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and stimulus credits.