Find out if you qualify
The easiest way to find out if you qualify is to use the IRS’s EITC Assistant Tool. The tool is available in English and Spanish. It will ask you questions about yourself and other family members to see if you qualify for the credit, and if so estimate the amount.
NOTE: When you look at the rules to qualify for EITC, be sure you have the information for the correct tax year —each tax year has different limits on your earned income.
You and any other family members claimed, such as your spouse or qualifying child must have a valid Social Security number.
Your filing status cannot be “married filing separately.”
You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.
About YOUR MONEY
You must have earned income.
- This includes:
- Wages, salaries, tips and other taxable employee pay. Earned income must be taxable to be considered.
- Nontaxable employee pay, such as certain dependent care benefits and adoption benefits, is not earned income. However, if you’re in the military, there’s an exception for nontaxable combat pay, which you can include as earned income.
- Net earnings from self-employment.
- Gross income received as an independent contractor or statutory employee.
- Certain employees who receive income for work performed as independent contractors may see Box 13 of their IRS Form W-2 checked as “Statutory employee.”
- If you retire on disability, taxable benefits you receive under your employer’s disability retirement plan are considered earned income until you reach minimum retirement age.
Your adjusted gross income (AGI) and your investment income such as taxable interest, tax-exempt interest, dividends and capital gain distributions must be less than the threshold amount for that year. The threshold changes based on your filing status and the number of qualifying children.
NOTE: Adjusted Gross Income is your gross, pre-tax income, minus any adjustments. It can be found on line 4 of IRS Form 1040EZ, line 22 of IRS Form 1040A, or line 38 of IRS Form 1040.
You cannot claim the EITC if you need to file IRS Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or IRS Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
About YOUR FAMILY
If you are not claiming a child, you must meet all of these rules:
- You must be at least age 25, but under 65.
- You cannot be the dependent of another person.
- You cannot be a qualifying child of another person.
- You must have lived in the United States more than half of the year.
If you are claiming a child:
- You cannot be a qualifying child of another person.
- Your qualifying child cannot be used by more than one person to claim the EITC.
- The child must pass relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests.
The child must be related to you.
A number of different relationships qualify for EITC:
• Son or daughter, stepchild, foster child, or their descendants (grandchild or great-grandchild), or
• Full and half siblings or their descendants (niece or nephew), or
• Adopted child or qualifying foster child.
The child must be:
• Under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), or
• Under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), or
• Permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, regardless of age.
The child must have lived with you in the United States for more than half of the tax year. This doesn’t mean six months in a row (for example, if your child lives with you during the school year, but spends summers elsewhere).
Joint Return Test
The child cannot file a joint return for the year. An exception to the joint return test applies if your child and his or her spouse file a joint return only to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid.
You may need to prove that you are entitled to the EITC, and provide documentation. (For more information, see How will this affect me?)
There are special EITC rules for members of the military, ministers, members of the clergy, those receiving disability benefits, and those impacted by disasters. If you fall into any of these categories, please visit the IRS Special EITC Rules page.
The PATH Act prevents you from filing retroactive returns or amended returns claiming EITC, ACTC, or AOTC if the reason you are filing is because you now have the type of valid TIN required for each credit but didn’t have such TIN before the due date of the return.
If for any reason you or one of your family members did not receive a valid “taxpayer identification number” by the due date of the tax return (including extensions) you cannot file a past due return or an amended return to claim any of these credits. A valid taxpayer identification number could be an SSN, ITIN, or ATIN depending on the requirement for each credit.
You cannot file a past due return or an amended return to claim the EITC for anyone on the return without an SSN that’s valid for employment by the due date of the return including a valid extension.
To claim the credit, file your tax return
To claim the credit, if eligible, you must file a tax return - whether you normally need to file or not. You need to complete an IRS Form Schedule EIC, Earned Income Credit and file it with your return, if you are claiming a qualifying child. If you do not have a qualifying child, you claim the credit on your tax return. Directions on how to determine the credit are in the instructions for the following tax forms: IRS Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ.
If you need free help preparing your taxes, type “Free Tax Prep” in the search box on www.IRS.gov and use the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) locator tool to find a volunteer site near you. You can also prepare and e-file your own taxes with professional software using the IRS’s Free File program.