Wisconsin Works (W-2)

There are a number of federal and state tax credits available to eligible W-2 working families that can reduce their tax burden and increase income.

Federal and Wisconsin Earned Income Tax Credits

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC) is available to working individuals who have low or moderate income. To qualify for EITC, individuals must have earned income from employment or self-employment. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, this results in a tax refund. To qualify, individuals must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they don’t owe any tax or are not required to file.

Federal tax refunds will not disqualify working families from W-2 because they are disregarded. All Federal tax refunds will not be counted as income or as an asset for 12 months when determining an individual’s eligibility or benefit amount for W-2, Job Access Loans, Emergency Assistance, Transitional Jobs, Child Care, FoodShare, BadgerCare Plus, Medicaid and Caretaker Supplement.

Working individuals may be eligible for both Wisconsin and Federal tax credits if they worked any time in 2013. They may be able to get a combined total of state and federal credits up to:

  • $8,099 if they have three or more children, with family income less than $46,227(single), $51,567(married).
  • $5,963 if they have two children, with family income less than $43,038 (single), $48,378 (married).
  • $3,381 if they have one child, with family income less than $37,870 (single), $43,210 (married).
  • $487 if they do not have any children, and family income less than $14,340 (single), $19,680 (married).

More detailed information can be found at Internal Revenue Service and Wisconsin Department of Revenue

The IRS has an interactive tax assistant that assists individuals with determining if they can claim the EITC and with calculating the amount of the credit. Refer to the IRS EITC Tax Assistant.

For more information on the federal EITC, refer to IRS Publication 596.

For more information on the Wisconsin EIC, refer to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) website.

Wisconsin Homestead Credit

The Wisconsin Homestead Credit (HC) is available to low income Wisconsin residents who rent or own their home. The credit may lessen the impact of property taxes and rent on individuals with lower incomes. Working individuals may be eligible for up to a maximum tax credit of $1,168 if they were a Wisconsin resident for all of 2013 and can provide copies of rent receipts (if renting) or property tax receipt (if own home) and their family income was less than $24,680 for 2013.

The following terms apply to individuals who received a W-2 payment (Community Service Job [CSJ], W-2 Transition [W-2 T], At Risk Pregnancy [ARP], and/or Custodial Parent of an Infant [CMC]) in tax year 2013:

  • If an individual received any amount of a W-2 payment in 2013 for any month in 2013, the individual’s property taxes and rent are reduced by one-twelfth for each month the individual received payment; or
  • If an individual received a W-2 payment for all 12 months of 2013, the individual is not eligible for the homestead credit.

For more information on the HC, refer to the Homestead Credit.

Federal Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is designed to assist working families offset the cost of raising children and is available to families with a qualifying child. Working families may be eligible for up to maximum federal tax credit of $1,000 per dependent child. If the amount of the CTC is greater than the amount of income tax a family owes, the family may receive part or all of the difference as an Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).

The IRS has an interactive interview that assists families with determining if they are eligible for the CTC. Refer to the IRS Filing Information for Individuals.

Filing Taxes for Previous Years

Individuals who have never filed or have not filed their returns in past years may file for tax credit refunds for the last three years (i.e. 2010, 2011, and 2012). If applicable to their situation, they would still be eligible to receive EIC and CTC credits for those previous years.

For more information on how to file a tax return for a prior year, call the IRS Tax Help Line at 1-800-829-1040.


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to low income individuals in preparing their tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping centers, churches, retirement homes, and other convenient locations. Most VITA sites are open from February 1 through April 15.

To find a VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887 or refer to the Tax Assistance Programs (VITA/TCE).

Fees and Commercial Tax Preparation

Some tax preparation companies offer money up-front to individuals seeking tax returns, often based only on the last paycheck of 2013. News articles indicate that some of these companies can charge very high interest (e.g. 30% up to 60%) rates and fees. As a result, individuals can lose much of the tax refund due them.

W-2 participants should be knowledgeable about these types of tax preparation services, however, they should not to sign anything without fully understanding the terms and conditions of the contract.

Updated February 25, 2014

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