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Am I eligible for a tax refund even with no taxable income?

Yes, potentially. Even if the taxpayer does not have any taxable income, the taxpayer may still qualify for certain refundable tax credits. It is important to understand that refundable tax credits aren’t limited by the taxpayers taxable income.

As you can see in the example below, since the taxpayer had taxable income of $0, he/she would only be eligible for refundable tax credits.

Nonrefundable tax credits can only be applied to reduce a taxpayers tax liability to zero. Nonrefundable tax credits cannot result in a tax refund. So if the taxpayer has $0 of taxable income, he/she would not qualify for nonrefundable tax credits.

The visual below lists out common refundable tax credits that a taxpayer with no income might be eligible for. This would include the W-2 withholding credit, child tax credit, earned income credit, excess social security paid credit, and the american opportunity credit (this is not a full list of refundable credits.


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