Tax filing for the jobless: Five ways to trim your tax bill

5. Check if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

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A man at a rally in Lansing, Mich., carries a sign denouncing the Earned Income Tax Credit in this February 2011 file photo. The credit can reduce taxes or give a refund to people who worked but made little money last year.

If you did actually work last year, but didn’t earn very much money, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC). It will reduce the amount of tax you owe or give you a return. The EIC started in 1975 as a way to ease poverty and encourage people to work.

You must meet a few requirements, including a maximum income based on the number of children you have. If you have no children, the maximum is $13,460, $35,535 for one child, $40,363 for two children, and $43,352 for three or more children. Add $5,010 to each amount if you are married and filing jointly. Also, your investment income for the year must be below $3,100.

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