About Public Benefits

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

About

Public Benefits

This information covers public benefits, which are government-funded programs that help individuals and families in need. Public benefits can include cash and income assistance, health care, food assistance, housing assistance, and tax benefits. 

There are many government assistance programs available, use this page to find out which government programs might help you. Most government programs were created by federal law to provide financial or other aid to individuals or groups who cannot support themselves. In Louisiana, most are run by state agencies, but some are run directly by federal government agencies. Depending on your situation, you can be eligible for some services and benefits while not qualifying for others.

This includes the following public benefit program information in the following categories:  

  • Food Benefits
  • Income & Cash Benefits
  • Health Benefits 
  • Housing Benefits
  • Tax Benefits 

Recipients that get these kinds of government benefits often must prove their income is below a set amount, which is some percentage of the federal poverty level. Most programs also require you to be a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen. Many programs have state requirements based on family size and details about combined family income. 

To apply for public benefits, you must contact your local government or social services agency. Depending on the type of benefit you are applying for, you may need to fill out an application and provide certain documents, such as proof of income, proof of identity, and proof of residence. Once your application is approved you may be asked to provide additional information or documents before you can receive the benefit. Depending on the benefit, you also are required to provide additional documentation, and/or attend an in-person interview or a telephone interview to provide more information. 

Find the benefits program you think you might need help with. Determine whether you are eligible. Gather your required documents. Complete the application. Submit the application.

To learn more about public benefits for veterans visit our resource Benefits For Veterans

To learn more about disability public benefits visit our resource Disability Public Benefits

Food Benefits

Food Benefits

This includes information about food aid and nutrition programs that may help you. This includes: 

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

Food benefits can refer to a variety of government programs that provide assistance to individuals and families in need of food assistance. 

Food Benefit Programs

You can get help to buy food for yourself and your family. Food stamp benefits can help low-income households buy food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is also known as food stamps. The Department of Children and Family Services runs the SNAP program in Louisiana. SNAP’s goal is to provide monthly financial help, through food stamps, so you have the opportunity to buy healthy and nutritious food that you may not otherwise be able to afford.

Eligibility

To get benefits from this program: 

  • You must live in Louisiana.

  • Meet household net income guidelines - based on the number of people in the household.

How Can I Apply? 

If you are someone who struggles to afford food that is good for you and think you might qualify for SNAP benefits then you can apply by filling out an application through Louisiana CAFE online. Gather the documents you will need to verify your information in the application. After submitting your application you must complete an interview by phone or in person.

You can get help with food and nutrition benefits through Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The Louisiana Department of Health is in charge of overseeing WIC benefits. WIC benefits are available to women that are pregnant, breastfeeding, and those who previously gave birth and are now a mom to a child. Infants and children can get benefits up to their fifth birthday.

Eligibility

To get benefits from this program: 

  • You must live in the state of Louisiana.

  • Meet WIC income eligibility requirements.

  • You must be a pregnant mother or have a child(ren) under the age of 5 years old.

How Can I Apply?

If you need help accessing healthy food and nutrition information and think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply by filling out an online application. Make an appointment at your nearest WIC clinic. If you are enrolling a child (who must be under 5 years old), then they should attend the appointment with you too.

You can get help with the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for food benefits. These benefits aim to improve the diets and health of low-income persons at least sixty years of age. Senior citizens get a food box each month. You can get benefits from both CSFP and other nutrition programs such as SNAP or Meals-on-Wheels.

Eligibility

To get benefits from this program: 

  • You must live in the state of Louisiana. 

  • You must be age 60 or older.

  • You must receive Social Security Income (SSI).

CSFP has food distribution operations in every parish of the state with the exceptions of Plaquemines and Saint Bernard Parishes. Residents of these parishes can travel to a food site in another parish.

How Can I Apply? 

All residents who meet the income and eligibility requirements may participate in CSFP. Click here to access, fill out, and print the CSFP Preliminary Certification Form. Mail or fax your completed application. Once the form is received, then CSFP determines your eligibility. You will get notified within 10 business days of receipt of your completed form if you are eligible. You will also get information on how to reach a local CSFP distribution center to complete your certification. You will need to bring additional information with you to finish signing up for CSFP. CSFP operates food distribution operations in each parish. When you go to get registered at the food site, you will need to bring: 

  • Proof of your address (such as a utility bill, phone bill, or driver’s license)

  • Proof of your income (such as a check stub, award letter from Social Security or SSI, or check stub from one of those programs) 

  • Proof of your age (a document listing your birthday, such as a birth certificate or driver’s license)

You can only go to one food site each month. You cannot get food at two sites in the same month.

Income & Cash Benefits

Income & Cash Benefits

This includes information about income and cash benefit programs that may help you. This includes: 

  • The Louisiana Combined Assistance Program (LACAP)
  • Family Independence Temporary Assistance (FITAP)
  • The Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP)
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • Social Security Benefits 
  • Child Care Assistance Program For Families (CCAP)

Income and cash benefits can refer to money or other financial benefits that an individual or family can get over time. Cash benefits as a form of public assistance can be used to purchase goods and services.

Income & Cash Benefit Programs

You can get help with food benefits through the Louisiana Combined Assistance Program (LACAP). LACAP benefits are available to Louisiana residents who are at least 60 years of age and get Supplemental Security Income (SSI). LACAP is a simple version of regular SNAP (food stamps). Benefits include monthly allotments of money to purchase food on a Louisiana Purchase Card. It is your choice whether you want to receive benefits through LACAP or regular SNAP. You may qualify for more benefits through regular snap if you pay more than $35 per month in out-of-pocket medical expenses, or pay more than $552 per month for shelter costs.

Eligibility

To get benefits from this program: 

  • You must live in the State of Louisiana.

  • You must be age 60 or older.

  • You must get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • Are not institutionalized or otherwise ineligible for SNAP benefits due to immigration status or an Intentional Program Violation.

  • Live alone or buy and prepare your food separately or agree to buy and prepare your food separately from the other people who live with you.

  • Are not living with your spouse or your own child who is under 22 years of age.

How Can I Apply? 

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply by completing the Louisiana Combined Application Project Enrollment Form. Include information about your housing expenses to get the most benefits possible. Return the completed form to any parish Department of Children and Family Services, Economic Stability office. There are no verification requirements. There are no telephone or face-to-face interviews required. You will be assigned a worker and your worker will determine eligibility. If you are eligible then you will get a letter within 30 days of the date your enrollment form is received.

You can get cash benefits if you have a family with children and your resources and income are not enough. The amount of help a family gets depends on family size. In Louisiana, you also have a lifetime limit of 60 months. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services runs the Family Independence Temporary Assistance (FITAP) program. Cash benefits go to recipients on a Louisiana Purchase Card each month.

Eligibility

To get benefits from this program: 

  • You must live in the state of Louisiana.

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen.

  • You must meet FITAP household income eligibility requirements. A family must be considered financially needy to be eligible. This means that the income available to care for the child does not meet their needs.

  • Children must be under the age of 18. If a child is 18 years of age then they must be enrolled full-time in school. 

  • You must be a qualified relative of the child by meeting certain relationship requirements. 

  • The child must be living in the same home as the qualified relative.

  • Work-eligible applicants and recipients must participate in the Strategies to Empower People (STEP Program) unless exempt. 

  • If you are pregnant or have a child under the age of one you must attend parenting skills training. 

  • The family is ineligible to get help if a parent or either parent of a two-parent family has received benefits for 24 of the prior 60 months.

How Can I Apply? 

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply online through the Louisiana CAFE Self-Service Portal. You will need to gather your documents to verify the information you report on your Application for Assistance. To understand what is required and examples of proof that is required learn more from the DCFS Assistance Eligibility Verification website. Report all sources of income on your application. DCFS must conduct an interview to determine if the child is eligible.

You can get help with cash benefits if there is a child who is living with a qualified relative other than a parent. The qualified relative must have or get legal custody of the minor child. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services runs the Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP). KCSP provides cash assistance each month for each eligible child.

Eligibility

To get benefits for this program: 

  • The child must live in the state of Louisiana. 

  • The child must live in the home of a qualified relative.

  • The qualified relative must have legal custody or get custody within one year of certification. 

  • The child must have an income of less than $450 per month. 

  • The qualified relative must meet KCSP income eligibility requirements. 

  • The child must not get SSI or foster care payments. 

  • The parent(s) of the child must not live in the home of the qualified relative.

How Can I Apply? 

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply. Gather your documents to verify your income and proof of eligibility. Provide documentation of income and birth to show the child’s age and relationship to you. You may also need to show a copy of court-awarded custody documents or other documents to establish the child’s relationship with the qualified relative. Complete the application form. You can apply online through the Louisiana CAFE Self-Service Portal. You will need to answer all questions completely and honestly. You must also complete an interview after you submit the application. You will be notified and get benefits if you are eligible within 30 days after you turn in your application.

You can get unemployment benefits if you need cash and you become unemployed. Unemployment benefits are a temporary financial assistance program. The amount of benefits that you can get is based on the amount of money that you earned before. You must file a claim each week for your unemployment benefits. The Louisiana Workforce Commission runs the program for unemployment benefits.

Eligibility

To get benefits you must meet unemployment eligibility requirements including: 

  • You must have earned enough wages in your base period. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your claim. 

  • You must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own. 

  • You must be physically able and available to work. You must be actively seeking work. If you are temporarily laid off and have a definite return-to-work date your work search requirements may be waived.

How Can I Apply? 

If you think you might qualify for unemployment benefits then you can apply. Prepare your documents to file your claim over the phone or on the website of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Before filing a claim, you will need the following information: 

  • Your social security number. 

  • Names, addresses, job-site locations, and telephone numbers of any employers for whom you worked during the last 18 months. 

  • Alien registration number (if applicable)

  • The member-4 copy of your DD214 (if you served in the military during the last 18 months)

  • Your SF-8 and SF-50 (if you worked for a federal employer during the last 18 months). However, do not delay filing if you cannot locate your federal documents.

  • Name and a local number of the union hall (if applicable.)

You can get social security benefits if you need income and you are eligible. Social Security pays retirement benefits to workers who have reached their full retirement age and have paid enough into the social security system to be insured. Social Security also pays survivor's benefits to certain dependents of deceased workers who have paid into Social Security. Social Security pays disability benefits to workers with disabilities who cannot work. Social Security also pays benefits for children with disabilities. The Supplemental Social Security Income helps with disabilities for children and other individuals with disabilities with low incomes and few resources. 

To learn more about Social Security Benefits visit the resource Social Security Benefits

Eligibility

To get benefits you must meet social security eligibility requirements including: 

  • You must be a worker who has reached retirement age and worked long enough; You are disabled; You are a certain dependent of a worker who is retired, disabled, or died. 

Use the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool to find out which programs may be able to pay you benefits.

How Can I Apply? 

You can apply for Social Security benefits by visiting your local Social Security office, calling Social Security, or online through your online Social Security account at www.ssa.gov.

You can get help with financial assistance for child care through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP is open to families who meet the income eligibility requirements, and assistance is based on family size and income. Eligible families can get assistance for up to 12 months, and the assistance can be used for any licensed childcare provider in Louisiana. Child care assistance is offered in a variety of services and supports to eligible families, such as childcare resources and referral services, child development, tuition assistance, and preschool activities. 

Eligibility

To get benefits you must meet CCAP eligibility requirements including: 

  • Families must have an income below program income limits. 
  • Families must have an employed adult and a child under the age of 13 in the home. 
  • Families must be getting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • Families must be getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Families must be getting Kinship Care or relative care. 

How Can I Apply? 

The number of families applying exceeds the funds now available to serve families with CCAP. A waitlist has been created so that eligible families can access slots as soon as funding is available again. All eligible families will be added to the list on a continuing basis. Families must submit a complete CCAP application with all documentation and are determined eligible. Families will be notified that they have been placed on the waitlist via the Louisiana Believes website when applying online or by mail when using a paper application. 

Apply for the waiting list on LA CAFÉ.

Eligible families may remain on the statewide waitlist for up to one year before having to reapply for assistance. When families reach the top of the waitlist they will be notified by phone, mail, and email. Every 30 days on the waitlist, families may be required to submit additional eligibility verification information. 

Health Care Benefits

Health Care Benefits

This includes information about health care benefit programs that may help you. This includes: 

  • Medicaid
  • Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP)
  • Medicaid Purchase Plan (MPP)
  • Family Opportunity Act Medicaid
  • Act 421 Children’s Medicaid Option (TEFRA)
  • Medicaid Dental Services
  • LaMOMS
  • Louisiana Health Insurance Premium Payment Program (LaHIPP)
  • Medicaid Long-Term Care Services

Health care benefit programs may help individuals and families who need help paying medical expenses. Health care benefit programs may also provide access to preventative care, mental health services, and other types of care. 

Health Care Benefit Programs

You can get help with health benefits through Louisiana's Medicaid Program. The Louisiana Department of Health runs the Medicaid program. Medicaid usually covers the same types of things that private insurance programs cover. Medicaid can also help you cover services not covered by Medicare. Medicaid can also help you with long-term care needs.

Eligibility

To get benefits for the Medicaid Program: 

  • You must live in the state of Louisiana. 

  • You must be either a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen. 

  • You must meet the program income eligibility requirements. Medicaid eligibility is determined using the Federal Poverty Level Income guidelines. 

You also qualify to get Medicaid if you: 

  • Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

  • Get financial help from the Office of Family Support (OFS) through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP). 

You may qualify to get Medicaid if you: 

  • Are disabled. 

  • Have corrected vision no better than 20/200.

  • Are a low-income parent of children under age 19.

  • Are a child under age 19. 

  • Are pregnant. 

  • Have no insurance and need treatment for breast and/or cervical cancer. 

  • Receive Medicare coverage and are low-income.

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify then you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal. Each application will tell you what information you need to send in with your application form. Your application will be reviewed and you will find out if you qualify for Medicaid benefits.

You can get help through the Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP). LaCHIP provides health benefits and health coverage for uninsured children. The program pays for hospital care, doctor's visits, prescription drugs, and more. The program is available for children up to age 19. There are higher income standards than traditional Medicaid to qualify for LaCHIP. A LaCHIP Affordable Plan is also for children whose parents make too much to qualify.

Eligibility

To get benefits you must be a minor child up to age 19 who is living in the state of Louisiana. The minor child may not currently have health insurance. Household income must be below the income limits.

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify then you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal. Each application will tell you what information you need to send in with your application form. Your application will be reviewed and you will find out if you qualify for Medicaid benefits.

You can get help with health coverage through the Medicaid Purchase Plan. Benefits include full medical coverage. This may include prescription drugs, hospital care, doctor services, medical equipment and supplies, and medical transportation. The Medicaid Purchase Plan is for people who work and have a severe disability. 

Eligibility

To get benefits you must live in Louisiana and have a countable income below the program limits. You must have a severe disability that matches Social Security’s standards. You must work. You must be at least 16 years old and not yet age 65. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal.

You can get help with health benefits through the Family Opportunity Act Medicaid. The Family Opportunity Act Medicaid helps provide health coverage to children with disabilities. Families may have a higher income range which allows families to buy into the Medicaid Program. 

Eligibility

To get benefits you must live in Louisiana and have a countable income below the program limits. The program is for uninsured or underinsured children who have disabilities in families with too much income to qualify for regular Medicaid or LaCHIP. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal.

You can get help with health benefits through Act 421 - Children's Medicaid Option. Act 421 created the program known as the TEFRA option in Medicaid. The program helps certain children with disabilities get Medicaid coverage, even if their parents earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Eligibility

To get benefits for this program: 

  • You must live in Louisiana. 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen. 

  • The program is for children under the age of 19. 

  • To get benefits the minor child must have a disability. 

  • You must meet TEFRA income eligibility guidelines.

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits then you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal.

You can get help with health benefits for dental services if you are getting Medicaid. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) contracts with DentaQuest and MCNA Dental.

Eligibility

To get benefits for Medicaid Dental Services you must be a qualified Medicaid enrollee. You must be eligible for Medicaid by living in the state of Louisiana as a U.S. citizen or as a qualified non-citizen. You must also meet Medicaid income eligibility guidelines. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for Medicaid Dental Services you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal.

You can get help with health benefits by access to no-cost health care coverage through the LaMOMS program. The LaMOMS program provides benefits for pregnancy-related services. This may include doctor visits, lab work, prescription medicines, delivery, and hospital care.

Eligibility

To get benefits through this program: 

  • You must be living in the state of Louisiana. 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen. 

  • You must meet income eligibility requirements for LaMOMS. 

  • You must be pregnant. Coverage may last for up to 12 months following the end of pregnancy. 

Once enrolled, a pregnant woman can keep the coverage until 60 days after their pregnancy ends, regardless of income or household changes. 

When your child is born, they will be automatically enrolled in LaCHIP, the no-cost health insurance program for children under 19.

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify you can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal. If you prefer, you may apply for LaMOMS by filling out a paper application form. Your application will be reviewed and you will get notified no later than 45 days after you submit your application.

You can get help with health benefits through the Louisiana Health Insurance Premium Payment Program (LaHIPP). LaHIPP helps pay your individual insurance plan or your employer-sponsored insurance if you or a member of your family receives Medicaid. LaHIPP has no cost and does not affect eligibility for Medicaid. LaHIPP will reimburse the premium paid for the policyholder and Medicaid-eligible dependents. 

Eligibility

You or a member of your family receives Medicaid. The program helps with insurance coverage or dependents who are not eligible for Medicaid. 

How Can I Apply?

Download a LaHIPP application here, complete it and submit it in one of the three ways below:

ATTN: LaHIPP

P.O. Box 91030

Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0930

You can get help with health benefits for long-term services and supports in institutional and home and community-based settings through Medicaid Long-Term Care Services. There are different types of long-term care services including nursing facility-based services, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities-based programs, and home and community-based services. 

Eligibility

  • You must be living in the state of Louisiana. 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen. 

  • You must meet the requirements for long-term care services in nursing home facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and home and community-based settings. 

How Can I Apply?

You can apply online by visiting the Medicaid Self-Service Portal. You can also download and print an application form. You must answer all the questions on the application form and give the needed proof to see if the person who needs long-term care services is eligible for Medicaid.

Housing & Utilities Benefits

Housing & Utilities Benefits

This includes information about housing and utility benefit programs that may help you. This includes: 

  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) 
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Public Housing Program
  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

Housing and utility benefit programs refer to the types of government help and initiatives designed to help low-income households access safe and secure housing. Housing benefits are administered on the federal, state, and local levels. 

Housing & Utilities Benefit Programs

You can get help with housing benefits through Louisiana Section 8 Housing. The Housing Choice Voucher Program helps provide housing for low-income families, the elderly, or persons who are disabled. You can find your housing through the voucher program. The housing must meet program requirements for health and safety. The local Public Housing Agency gets program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Once a family finds a suitable housing unit the program pays a subsidy directly to the landlord leaving the family to pay the difference between the subsidy and actual rent. 

Eligibility

To get benefits applicants must meet a set of eligibility requirements and live in the state of Louisiana. Eligibility is based mainly on income. The income eligibility requirements are usually based on the area’s median income. You can find the income limits here. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or qualified non-citizens. The Housing Choice Voucher program extends special eligibility priority to the disabled, elderly, and to families with children. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits you can apply for participation in the program. Find your nearest local Public Housing Authority (PHA) office. You will be guided through the application process through your local PHA office. Once the PHA evaluates your application then you may go on a waiting list.

You can get help with housing benefits through the form of public housing with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Public Housing Program. Housing projects involve the construction of subsidized housing units by a public or private entity. These units are made available to low-income households at below-market rates. Unlike housing vouchers, the tenant must live in the housing unit provided. Additionally, the units may only be located in certain designated areas. Public housing agencies (PHAs) manage the housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford. 

Eligibility

To get benefits applicants must be a low-income family or individual. A PHA determines your eligibility based on your: (1) annual gross income; (2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and (3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible then the PHA may check your references to make sure that you and your family will be good tenants. PHAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment. 

You must meet income eligibility limits for your area and your family size. You can find the income limits here. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits apply for public housing by contacting your local PHA. If you have trouble contacting the PHA, contact the local HUD Field Office.

You can get help with paying monthly utility bills through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Qualified households can get these benefits to pay for energy in their home. Priority for the program goes to the elderly, disabled, or families with children.

Eligibility

To get benefits you must live in the state of Louisiana and meet the LIHEAP income eligibility limits. An applicant can get one LIHEAP benefit each season. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for benefits for low-income energy assistance gather your information including utility bills, proof of income, any disconnect or pending disconnection notices, and proof of your address. You must also show proof of the total number of members living in the household.Visit the LIHEAP Provider Directory to find a location to apply. 

You can get help with housing benefits to provide free home improvement through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The program provides free energy-saving improvements to qualifying households. Home improvement efforts get made to help energy efficiency in the home. This helps keep utility bills as low as possible. The program also provides for the installation of energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, and water heaters. WAP also provides energy education and weatherization services to help households save energy and money. 

Eligibility

To get benefits your total household income must meet WAP requirements. Your eligibility is based on the size of your family and your income. You must live in the state of Louisiana. 

Priority for these benefits goes to the elderly, families with children, or persons who are disabled.

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for WAP benefits then you can find WAP providers in your area to apply. Find out more about providers in the Energy Assistance Provider Listing.

Tax Benefits

Tax Benefits

This includes information about tax benefit programs that may help you. This includes: 

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Child And Dependent Care Credit
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) 
  • Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (RSCC)

Tax benefit programs refer to the types of government-funded initiatives that provide individuals and families with tax incentives and rebates for certain activities or expenses. These programs often come in the form of credits, deductions, and exemptions. 

Before applying for any tax benefit or deduction, the taxpayer must first determine if they are eligible for the particular benefit or deduction. Once a taxpayer has determined that they are eligible for a particular tax benefit or deduction, then they must complete the necessary IRS forms. These forms are available on the IRS website and must be filled out accurately and completely. Once the forms are completed, then they can be submitted to the IRS. This can be done online, by mail, or in person. 

It is important for taxpayers to keep detailed records of their tax benefits and deductions. This makes the filing process easier in the future. This also is proof for the IRS in the event of an audit. 

Tax Benefit Programs

You can get help with tax benefits with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC helps low to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. The benefits help reduce the amount of taxes that you may owe. It may also help increase your refund.

Eligibility

To get benefits you must meet EITC income guidelines. You may claim the credit if your income is low-to-moderate. The amount of credit may change if you have children or dependents, if you are disabled, or meet other criteria. 

How Can I Apply?

If you think you might qualify for the EITC tax credit then you can file your federal taxes and claim the credit. No application is needed to use this program. You can use the Earned Income Tax Credit Assistant for help finding out if you are eligible or the estimated amount of your credit.

You can get help with tax benefits with the Child and Dependent Care Credit. The Child and Dependent Care Credit may help you reduce the amount of taxes that you owe. The tax credit helps parents and families pay for the care of their children and other dependents while they work, are looking for work, or are going to school.

Eligibility

To get benefits you must file your federal taxes and claim the credit for child and dependent care expenses. You must be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen with a minor child(ren). You must meet income eligibility guidelines. 

  • Your dependent qualifying child must be under age 13 when the care was provided, 
  • Your spouse must be physically or mentally incapable of self-care and lives with you for more than half of the year, or 
  • You are an individual who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. 

How Can I Apply?

No application is needed to use this program. However, you must file your taxes using the guidelines in Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. To claim the credit, you can file Form 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR. You must complete Form 2441 and attach it to your Form 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR. If your credit is refundable, enter the credit on Schedule 3 (Form 1040), line 13g. If your credit is nonrefundable, enter the credit on Schedule 3 (Form 1040), line 2.

You can get tax benefits for qualified educational expenses if you are an eligible student for the first four years of higher education. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) provides up to $2,500 per eligible student, per year. The taxpayer claims the credit in the year the expenses were paid. The credit may be claimed for qualified tuition and related expenses paid, including fees, books, and course materials. 

Eligibility

To get benefits you must be an eligible student who has expenses for qualified tuition and related expenses that you paid while you are attending a higher education institution. You must also be eligible within the income limits

  • You must be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential, 
  • Be enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period beginning in the tax year, 
  • Not have finished the first four years of higher education at the beginning of the tax year, 
  • Not have claimed the AOTC or the former Hope credit for more than four tax years, 
  • Not have a felony drug conviction at the end of the tax year. 

How Can I Apply? 

To get benefits you must file your federal taxes and claim the credit by completing IRS Form 8863, Education Credits (American Opportunity And Lifetime Learning Credits). Generally, students receive a Form 1098-T Tuition Statement, from their school by January 31. This statement helps you figure out your credit. The form will have an amount in box 1 to show the amounts received during the year. To claim AOTC, you must complete Form 8863 and attach the completed form to your tax return.

You can get tax benefits by saving for retirement through the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (RSCC). The RSCC, otherwise known as the "Saver's Credit" helps low-and-moderate-income individuals to save for retirement. The credit is available for taxpayers who make contributions to their retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, and can be worth up to $1,000 depending on income and filing status. 

Eligibility

To get tax benefits through the RSCC: 

  • You must not be a full-time student. 
  • Your modified adjusted gross income must be below certain thresholds based on your filing status. 
  • You must have contributed to a qualifying retirement savings account. 
  • Your filing status must be single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing jointly. 

How Can I Apply? 

To get benefits you must file your federal taxes and claim the credit using the IRS Form 8880. On Form 8880, you will need to provide information about your eligible retirement plan contributions and the amount of your credit. You may also be required to provide additional information, such as your adjusted gross income, filing status, and other financial data. Once you complete Form 8880 and other required forms, then you can submit your tax return with the IRS Form 8880 included. 

Last Review and Update: Dec 07, 2022
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