Common errors have helped to make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) a major source of what the IRS calls “improper payments.” The agency estimates that of the $66 billion in EIC funds paid in 2015, nearly a quarter were collected by filers who didn’t qualify to receive them. To help combat this problem, the IRS now requires additional confirmation of information regarding the EIC and three new credits beginning in 2016.
Now if you claim the EIC, the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), additional information may be requested of you.
For the CTC and ACTC, you may be asked how long your children lived with you over the past year, or whether they lived with an ex-spouse, relatives, or other guardian.
If you are eligible for the AOTC, which is a credit to defray as much as $2,500 in higher education costs for you or your children, you will need to provide Form 1098-T from the college or university. You will also need receipts for related expenses.
You may also be asked to double-check your social security numbers and dates of birth for the dependents on your return, as these are two common sources of error.
If you get more questions than usual or are asked for additional documents, be aware that it’s just a new reporting requirement required by the IRS.