IRS: Tax Benefits Available For Survivors of Domestic Violence 

When survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives, establishing solid financial footing is a priority. During federal tax filing season, important IRS tax benefits can support survivors in achieving the goal of financial recovery. Is someone in your life picking up the pieces following abuse? Here’s what to know before filing this year’s tax returns.

Don’t Overlook the Earned Income Tax Credit

One of the most significant tax benefits available to survivors of domestic violence is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which helps low- to moderate-income filers get a tax break, and often, a sizable refund. The EITC can be literal money in the bank for survivors to secure their safety and financial freedom from their abuser. According to the IRS, “the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) may be available if you are working and your earnings are low [under 63,000 for the 2023 tax year]. The credit may be larger if you have one or more children living with you.”

To claim the EITC, married couples typically must file their taxes jointly. This requirement, however, places victims of domestic abuse in a precarious position if they are separated from an abusive spouse, but not yet legally divorced. Recognizing this dilemma, the IRS has made exceptions to allow survivors to claim the EITC in certain situations.

According to IRS rules, if your spouse did not live in your home any time during the last six months of the year, you can file your taxes individually as “head of household” and claim the EITC. Per IRS guidelines, “You can claim the EITC if you are married, not filing a joint return, had a qualifying child who lived with you for more than half of 2023, and either of the following apply: You lived apart from your spouse for the last 6 months of 2023, or you … are legally separated according to your state law under a written separation agreement or a decree of separate maintenance and you didn’t live in the same household as your spouse at the end of 2023.”

This is a pivotal protection for survivors of domestic violence who moved to escape abuse (or their spouse moved out as a result of a restraining order or abandoned the home). For survivors just trying to get a foothold in their new lives, the EITC can be a game changer for greater financial security and peace of mind.

Use the IRS tool EITC Qualification Assistant to see if you qualify, or speak with a tax professional. Libraries and community centers often offer free tax help to answer questions and assist with filing.

Do you or a loved one need legal help with a domestic violence situation? Safeguard yourself today. Request a Free initial consultation with a Restraining Order Specialist

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