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Watch out for these Common EITC Errors!

Errors can delay your refund or we could end up denying your EITC claim. Watch out for these common errors when claiming EITC:

  • Claiming a child who does not meet all of the qualifying child tests: relationship, age, residency and joint return. The child not meeting the relationship or residency test causes most of these errors. Read more about qualifying child rules here

  • More than one person claiming the same child. A person who is not a parent of the child often causes this when the parent has the higher income. Find more information on our “Qualifying Child of More Than One Person” page.

  • Social Security number or last name mismatches. Look at the Social Security card of everyone listed on your return to make sure it matches how Social Security Administration lists the name and to double check the number. Read more about Social Security Numbers and EITC here.

  • Filing as single or head of household when married. Unsure about your tax filing status? Use the Interactive Tax Assistant, “What is My Filing Status?” to find out.

  • Over or under reporting of income or expenses. Be sure you have all your Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099 MISC, and any other income records, even if not reported on a form, before your file your return. And, you are required to take off all business, farm or other income-related expenses from your income.

Consequences of Errors on Your EITC Returns

Avoid an audit, additional tax, penalties or interest by making sure all the information on your tax return is complete and correct. There are consequences for filing your returns with errors whether you made by mistake or did on purpose. Find out more about the consequences of errors on your EITC returns here

If you pay someone to prepare your return, that person and the firm the person works for has some additional responsibility to make sure your return is correct. Expect your preparer, whether you pay or it’s free, to ask you a great deal of questions to make sure your return is correct. For more information on choosing a preparer, see our page “Tips for Choosing a Tax Return Preparer.” For more information on the preparer’s responsibilities, see our article, “Consequences of Filing EITC Returns Incorrectly” on the Tax Preparer Toolkit (you leave to visit our toolkit on EITC Central, an IRS-sponsored site.)

Can You Support Your Claim of a Child?

If we pick your EITC claim for an exam based on the child you claim, we ask for proof that the child is your qualifying child. Or, if you and another person claim the same child, we may ask you to send proof. The following are some of the documents you can use to support your claim:

Warning: Don’t send any of the items listed unless we ask for them and then only send copies not the originals.

Proof of Relationship:

  • Birth certificates or other official documents of birth that verify your relationship to the child
  • Marriage certificates that show how you are related to the child
  • Letter from the authorized adoption agency
  • Letter from the authorized child placement center or a court document showing the placement

Proof for full-time student:

  • Copies of official school records showing:
    • Child’s address of record
    • The child was a full-time student for at least five months of the tax year (the months don’t have to be consecutive)
    • The dates the child attended the school

Proof of Residency (you may have to send more than one of the following to show your child lived with you for more than half the year):

  • Copies of school (no report cards) medical or social services records
  • Letter on official letterhead from school, a healthcare or medical provider, social service agency, placement agency official, employer, Indian tribal official, landlord or property manager or a place of worship that shows:
    • The name of your child’s parent or guardian
    • Your child’s address matching your own
    • Dates the writer knows the child lived with you

  • Daycare records or a letter from your day care provider (if the daycare provider is related to you, you must have at least one other record or letter that shows proof)

Resources for Preparing Your Return:

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 25-Feb-2014