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Lawmakers urge IRS to boost outreach about tax credits for low-income Americans

Lawmakers urge IRS to boost outreach about tax credits for low-income Americans
© Greg Nash

A group of more than 50 House members is urging the IRS to use the information it obtained from a stimulus payment-related web tool to increase outreach about two tax credits that benefit low-income families who may not be aware of their eligibility.

The IRS last year created a web tool that low-income people who aren't required to file tax returns could use to provide the agency with their information in order to claim their stimulus payments.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch New report reignites push for wealth tax MORE and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, the lawmakers said that many of the people who used the nonfiler tool are also eligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit (CTC), but may not be aware of it.

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"The IRS has a limited-time and unique opportunity, while the information is still fresh, to conduct targeted outreach to these low-income non-filers who may be unaware of their eligibility for these important refundable tax credits," the lawmakers wrote.

Rep. Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreDemocrats offer bill to encourage hiring of groups hard-hit by pandemic Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy Lawmakers urge IRS to boost outreach about tax credits for low-income Americans MORE (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, took the lead on the letter, which was primarily signed by Democrats.

Low- and middle-income households that are eligible for the EITC and CTC can claim them by filing a tax return. The credits are refundable, which means that people can receive a refund if the credit amount they're entitled to is more than what they owe in taxes.

The lawmakers said that the EITC and CTC help to reduce poverty, but not everyone who is eligible for the credits receives them. Although the IRS conducts an annual outreach campaign about the EITC, the agency could do more to get eligible recipients their refundable credits, the lawmakers said.

The House members said that the IRS this year has an opportunity to conduct outreach about the credits that is targeted to the more than 8 million people who used the agency's web tool for nonfilers to register for their stimulus payments.

"We believe using the information from the Non-Filer portal is an easy way to directly reach Americans who may be missing out on benefits of these credits and to make them aware of their possible EITC eligibility at the beginning of this filing season and direct them on how to claim the EITC, if eligible, on this or prior year returns," the lawmakers wrote. "By reaching these non-filers, we could make real headway in improving the EITC participation rates and the lives of millions of Americans."