You might not have heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit, but it may help you get a tax refund of thousands of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service—especially this year. That’s because the IRS says that for those affected by the recent hurricanes, the Earned Income Tax Credit could actually be bigger than in the past. 

The credit generally applies to lower- and moderate-income workers. Households earning up to $53,930 are eligible. If you use tax software to prepare your taxes, it will automatically ask you questions to determine whether you qualify. If you work with a tax preparer instead, she should walk you through a series of questions to establish your eligibility.

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Qualifying for the EITC can help you to recoup some or all of the money you’ve already paid to the IRS. It might even give you a tax refund that is more than you’ve paid in taxes.

How much you receive depends on your income, marital status, and how many children (dependents) you have. A single person without children making just over $15,000 a year could get back more than $500. A married couple with three children making about $50,600 could get more than $6,000. On average, the earned income tax credit adds $2,445 to refunds, the IRS says.

Many Tax Filers Miss This Opportunity

Although millions of working Americans qualify, one-fifth of households eligible for the earned income tax credit don’t claim it, according to the IRS. Those who don’t file federal tax returns because they made less in 2017 than the filing minimum, for instance, still might be eligible for this tax break. (For single people younger than 65, that’s $10,400; for couples younger than 65 filing jointly, it’s $20,800.) They should consider filing anyway, just to get the EITC.

The IRS says grandparents who care for dependent grandchildren may not be aware that they qualify for the credit. Many qualifying rural taxpayers and Native Americans don’t take it, either, because they don’t know about it or assume they’re ineligible, among other reasons, the agency says.

Disabled taxpayers and their families may incorrectly believe that filing for the credit could jeopardize their receipt of government benefits. “The law is clear that tax refunds, including refunds from tax credits such as the EITC, are not counted as income for purposes of determining eligibility for such benefits,” the IRS stated in a recent press release. “This applies to any federal program and any state or local program financed with federal funds.”

Hurricane Victims Could Benefit This Year

This year, the IRS has created a new EITC eligibility calculation specifically for victims living in designated 2017 hurricane disaster areas. It computes your credits for both 2017 and 2016, and allows you to claim the larger of the two. 

The unique computation is intended to help people whose incomes may have fallen due to the hurricanes, the IRS says. The agency has also taken steps to provide other relief to hurricane victims and those affected by other natural disasters such as the California wildfires. For instance, affected tax filers were allowed to file amended 2016 tax returns to claim a tax break for their 2017 unreimbursed catastrophic losses, rather than waiting include those losses in their 2017 returns.

National storefront tax-prep companies, including H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and Liberty Tax, said they’ve already incorporated the new computation into their systems. H&R Block’s do-it-yourself tax products also include the computation, as do those from other major tax-preparation companies such as TaxAct, TaxSlayer and TurboTax. 

To find out whether you can benefit from the earned income tax credit, you can go to a tax preparer, use tax preparation software, or turn to the EITC Assistant provided by the IRS. Lower- and middle-income families and seniors can use free tax-prep services through various government and volunteer programs. The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program, for instance, will pair you with trained volunteers. You can also prepare and file yourself free of charge using IRS FreeFile or the free versions of commercial tax software.