Building Your Assets and Wealth

Tax Credits and Tools

Tax credits can help you save money and build assets. A few important credits include:

  • The Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • The Credit for the Elderly or Disabled
  • Illinois property tax exemptions for people with disabilities, and
  • The federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs).

To get any of these tax credits, you must file your taxes!

Get free help filing your taxes

If you have limited income, don't pay someone to do your taxes. If you made $60,000 or less last year, you can use a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center to file. With VITA, certified volunteers help prepare your taxes and make sure you get any credits you qualify for. Most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). VITA sites are often at community centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Find a local VITA center or call 1-800-906-9887.

If you prefer to file your own taxes online, you can do that for free if you made less than $73,000 last year. Learn more about the IRS Free File program.

Tip: Always keep all your W-2 forms and a record of who you have worked for during the year. Then, file your taxes, even if your income is low enough that you don't have to file — you can only get a tax credit if you file your taxes.

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) gives parents with children under age 17 up to a $2,000 tax credit for each child. Eligible families must be working and earning at least $2,500 a year.

Note: If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and get money from a CTC, you should spend it within 12 months. After 12 months, Social Security will count that money toward SSI's resource limit.

Credit for the Elderly or Disabled

If you or your spouse is a U.S. citizen who got taxable disability income and was permanently and totally disabled during this tax year, you may be eligible for the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

Illinois Property Tax Exemptions

Illinois offers a variety of Homestead Exemptions to help with the cost of property taxes. The Homestead Exemption for Persons with Disabilities takes $2,000 off the assessed value of a property that is owned and occupied by a person with a disability. Homestead Exemptions for veterans with disabilities include up to $100,000 off the assessed value when federal funds have paid to buy or build specially adapted housing, or $2,500-$5,000 off the assessed value for a qualified veteran with a disability. Learn more about the available Homestead Exemptions.

Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs)

If you have low income, Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) may help lower your federal and state income taxes. Even if you don’t earn enough money to owe federal and state income taxes, you may be able to get the federal and state EITCs. Many people who qualify for EITCs don’t get them, because they don’t know they could or they don't file their taxes.

To qualify, you must have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits that is below certain limits and you must file your federal and state taxes.

The amount you get from your EITCs depends on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), whether you are married, and the number of children you have. For 2023 (filing taxes by April 2024), the federal EITC ranges from $2 to $7,430.

The Illinois EITC is 18% of the Federal EITC, or $0 to $0. For example, if your federal EITC is $4,000, your Illinois EITC is $720.

Federal EITC Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Limits and Maximum Credits*

No Children

1 Qualifying Child

2 Qualifying Children

3 or More Qualifying Children


AGI limit: $17,640
Max credit: $600
AGI limit: $46,560
Max credit: $3,995
AGI limit: $52,918
Max credit: $6,604
AGI limit: $56,838
Max credit: $7,430

Married (filing jointly)

AGI limit: $24,210
Max credit: $600
AGI limit: $53,120
Max credit: $3,995
AGI limit: $59,478
Max credit: $6,604
AGI limit: $63,698
Max credit: $7,430
* Figures are for tax year 2023 (filing by April 2024).
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) eligibility requirements

General requirements:

  • You must meet adjusted gross income requirements (see table above).
  • You must have earned income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits that you got before retirement.
  • You must have a Social Security number valid for employment.
  • You cannot file your taxes as “married filing separately.” If you are married, you must file a joint tax return.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien. If not, you must be married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint tax return.
  • You must live in the U.S. for more than half of the year.

Age requirements:

  • If you are claiming qualifying children, you can be any age.
  • If you’re not claiming a qualifying child, you must be 25 to 64 years old.

Additional requirements:

  • You cannot claim foreign income or a foreign housing deduction using Form 2555.
  • You cannot have more than $11,000 in investment income (for 2023).
  • You cannot be the dependent of another person.
  • You cannot be the qualifying child of another person.

Qualifying Children

A child must meet some requirements to be considered a “qualifying child” for an EITC:

  • Relationship: The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of these (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew).
  • Residence: The child must live at the same residence as you for more than half the year and have a valid Social Security number.
  • Age: At the end of the tax year, the child must be 18 or younger. Or, if going to school full-time, the child must be 23 or younger. The only exception is if your child is permanently and totally disabled, in which case there is no age requirement.

A qualifying child can only be listed on one tax return for an EITC.

How to Get an EITC

To claim a federal EITC, you must file a federal tax return, IRS Form 1040. If you have a qualifying child, be sure to attach a Schedule EIC.

To calculate the value of your EITC, you can use the Earned Income Credit Worksheet in your 1040 instruction booklet. Or you can ask the IRS to calculate it for you by noting an “EIC” on the Earned Income Credit line on your tax return.

To see whether you qualify for an EITC and how much you might get, use the IRS EITC Assistant.

To claim a state EITC, you must qualify for the federal EITC on your federal tax return and you must file a state tax return. Learn more about the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit.


You must have earned income to qualify for an EITC. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) do not count as earned income. You can, however, get SSI or SSDI benefits and claim an EITC, as long as you also have earned income.

If you're on SSI, spend any money you get from an EITC within 12 months. Otherwise, that money will count toward SSI's resource limit, unless you save the money in an Individual Development Account (IDA), a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), or an ABLE account.

Learn more