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What is Earned Income?

Earned income includes all the taxable income and wages you get from working or from certain disability payments.

There are two ways to get earned income:

You work for someone who pays you

 or

You own or run a business or farm

Taxable earned income includes:

  • Wages, salaries, tips, and other taxable employee pay;
  • Union strike benefits;
  • Long-term disability benefits received prior to minimum retirement age;
  • Net earnings from self-employment if: 

Nontaxable Combat Pay election. You can elect to have your nontaxable combat pay included in earned income for EITC. The amount of your nontaxable combat pay should be shown on your Form W-2, in box 12, with code Q. Electing to include nontaxable combat pay in earned income may increase or decrease your EITC. See Publication 3. Armed Forces Tax Guide, for more information.

Examples of Income that are Not Earned Income:

  • Pay received for work while an inmate in a penal institution
  • Interest and dividends
  • Retirement income
  • Social security
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Alimony
  • Child support.

Return to EITC Home Page

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 05-Feb-2014