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Filing Taxes Could Help Low-Income People Get Stimulus Payments


Advocates are urging low-income people who might not normally file federal income taxes to do so this year, in order to get stimulus payments and child tax credits they're eligible to receive.

The IRS is in the midst of sending people $1,400 for its third round of COVID-19-related stimulus payments; earlier rounds last year and earlier this year were for $1,200 and $600.

“Whether you have no income or low income, whether you think that you weren’t eligible for the first or second round of stimulus payments, you should still file taxes,” said Dacil Keo, a paralegal at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “The rules for mixed [citizenship] status families have changed. Just doing the simple act of filing taxes will get you a lot of money, will get you a lot of help and assistance.” 

Filers can still receive these previous payments if they didn’t get them, she said.

Filing now can also ensure people will receive the enhancedchild tax credit, which was recently increased under the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. Those payments, for families with children under age 17, are expected to start in July. Depending on income, payments can be up to $3,600 per child under age six, and up to $3,000 for children aged six to 17.

“It’s a big help for people who have been struggling during this pandemic,” Keo said.

The deadline to file is May 17.

You can use theIRS free filer tool here or look for a locationclose to you where you can find free tax help.

Kate Giammarise:

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Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.