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Claiming the Making Work Pay credit

Tax Guide » Tax Credits » Claiming the Making Work Pay tax credit

The Making Work Pay tax credit put some extra cash into most workers' paychecks in 2010. A single taxpayer was eligible for up to $400 last year, while married couples brought home a maximum of $800.

The money was added to paychecks via reduced payroll withholding. But that isn't the end of the credit. Now that filing season has arrived, you have to account for that money by filing Schedule M.

The IRS wants this form if you file a long Form 1040 or the slightly shorter Form 1040A. Taxpayers who can file the shortest return, 1040EZ, will simply use a work sheet on the back of that form.

Why the extra work?

Although most eligible workers effectively got the credit amount because Uncle Sam took less money from their paychecks, that's not the official credit claim. Calculations made on Schedule M will help taxpayers determine whether they received the full credit in their paychecks or are due more money from the credit.

Once you complete Schedule M, you'll transfer the dollar figure you come up with on line 11 of that document to either line 63 of Form 1040 or line 40 of Form 1040A. Form 1040EZ filers will take their work sheet calculation and enter it on the EZ's line 8.

All these lines on the various tax returns are in the section that records all your tax payments. This includes withholding amounts from your W-2s, certain 1099s and any estimated tax payments you made.

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Essentially, at filing time the credit is treated as additional withholding that can increase your refund or reduce any tax you might owe.

Not for all filers

Because the Making Work Pay credit was in effect for all of 2010, there shouldn't be as much filing confusion as there was at this time last year. Also, retirees didn't receive a special payment last year, so they don't have to file the form this year.

But there still could be some issues with claiming the credit, especially for higher income earners.

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