Tax Time is a Time to Build Your Savings

Finding money in a tight budget to put towards savings is challenging. However, tax time may provide an opportunity to kick-off that saving goal! The first step is to check if you are eligible for any tax credits.

The Earned Income Credit is designed for people who worked part-time or full-time in 2014 and had earned income less than about $48,000. The amount you can receive from this credit depends on your income and the number of children you have (although you can still receive some credit without children). You could qualify for as much as $6,143. This credit first will go towards paying any taxes you owe. However, the remainder will go to you and this is money you can immediately put towards your saving goal!

If you have children, you may also qualify for the Child Tax Credit. To learn more about these credits, go to and search for EIC or Child Tax Credit. Don't pass up these tax credits you've earned; fill out the correct tax forms so that you receive the refunds.

Often when people file their taxes, they receive money due to overpayment during the year. An opportunity to save this money! If you don't have emergency savings set aside for unexpected expenses, now is the time to open a savings account. Emergency savings provide peace-of-mind and are very helpful when needed. Plus, it's a much cheaper way to fund repairs or take advantage of opportunities than using a credit card with interest costs.

If you already have a savings account, then consider investing for your retirement. Contributing to a retirement plan can have tax-advantages. For example, if you open an IRA-account, you may not pay income taxes on the amount you deposit in that account. (That's money saved.) However, for contributions to a traditional IRA, the amount you can deduct from your income may be limited if you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels. Check with a tax or other financial professional to determine which type of retirement plan is best suited to you.

If you add money to a retirement savings plan and if your income is less than $45,000 ($60,000 for married couples), then you may qualify for the Saver's Credit. The amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% of your retirement plan or IRA contributions up to $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly), depending on your adjusted gross income. You have until April 15, 2015, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA for 2014.

Two more financial tips: first, split your tax refund (using Form 8888) with direct deposits into two or three accounts. This way you start your savings account or IRA and still receive some refund for spending now.

Second, save money by filing electronically for a low-cost or free. Go to Free-File: Do Your Federal Taxes for Free and file your federal taxes for free if your income is under $60,000. This is secure and safe, and gives you more money to put towards your savings goal!

Approach this year's tax season with the intent to start or increase your saving accounts. Think about your financial goals and create a saving goal at America Saves; you'll receive educational resources to keep you working towards your goal throughout 2015.