Publication 596 - Introductory Material


Future Developments

For the latest information about developments related to Publication 596, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to www.irs.gov/pub596.

What is the EIC?

The earned income credit (EIC) is a tax credit for certain people who work and have earned income under $51,567. A tax credit usually means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe. The EIC may also give you a refund.

Can I Claim the EIC?

To claim the EIC, you must meet certain rules. These rules are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Earned Income Credit in a Nutshell

First, you must meet all the rules in this column. Second, you must meet all the rules in one of these columns, whichever applies. Third, you must meet the rule in this column.
Chapter 1.  
Rules for Everyone
Chapter 2.  
Rules If You Have a Qualifying Child
Chapter 3.  
Rules If You Do Not Have a Qualifying Child
Chapter 4. 
Figuring and Claiming the EIC
1. Your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than: 
 
• $46,227 ($51,567 for married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children, 
 
• $43,038 ($48,378 for married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children, 
 
• $37,870 ($43,210 for married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child, or  
 
• $14,340 ($19,680 for married filing jointly) if you do not have a qualifying child.
2. You must have a valid social security number.  
 
3.Your filing status cannot be Married filing separately. 
 
4. You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.  
 
5. You cannot file Form 2555 or Form 2555-EZ (relating to foreign earned income). 
 
6. Your investment income must be $3,300 or less. 
 
7.You must have earned income.
8. Your child must meet the relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests. 
 
9. Your qualifying child cannot be used by more than one person to claim the EIC.  
 
10. You cannot be a qualifying child of another person.
11. You must be at least age 25 but under age 65. 
 
12. You cannot be the dependent of another person.  
 
13. You cannot be a qualifying child of another person. 
 
14. You must have lived in the United States more than half of the year.
15. Your earned income must be less than: 
 
• $46,227 ($51,567 for married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children, 
 
• $43,038 ($48,378 for married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children, 
 
• $37,870 ($43,210 for married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child, or 
 
• $14,340 ($19,680 for married filing jointly) if you do not have a qualifying child.

Do I Need This Publication?

Certain people who file Form 1040 must use Worksheet 1 in this publication, instead of Step 2 in their Form 1040 instructions, when they are checking whether they can take the EIC. You are one of those people if any of the following statements are true for 2013.

  • You are filing Schedule E (Form 1040).

  • You are reporting income from the rental of personal property not used in a trade or business.

  • You are reporting income on Form 1040, line 21, from Form 8814 (relating to election to report child's interest and dividends).

  • You are reporting an amount on Form 1040, line 13, that includes an amount from Form 4797.

If none of the statements above apply to you, your tax form instructions have all the information you need to find out if you can claim the EIC and to figure the amount of your EIC. You do not need this publication. But you can read it to find out whether you can take the EIC and to learn more about the EIC.

Do I Have To Have A Child To Qualify For The EIC?

No, you can qualify for the EIC without a qualifying child if you are at least age 25 but under age 65 and your earned income is less than $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly). See chapter 3.

How Do I Figure the Amount of EIC?

If you can claim the EIC, you can either have the IRS figure the amount of your credit, or you can figure it yourself. To figure it yourself, you can complete a worksheet in the instructions for the form you file. To find out how to have the IRS figure it for you, see chapter 4.

How Can I Quickly Locate Specific information?

You can use the index to look up specific information. In most cases, index entries will point you to headings, tables, or a worksheet.

Is There Help Online?

Yes. You can use the EITC Assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc to find out if you may be eligible for the credit. The EITC Assistant is available in English and Spanish.

What's New for 2013

Earned income amount is more. The maximum amount of income you can earn and still get the credit has increased. You may be able to take the credit if:

  • You have three or more qualifying children and you earned less than $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly),

  • You have two qualifying children and you earned less than $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly),

  • You have one qualifying child and you earned less than $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly), or

  • You do not have a qualifying child and you earned less than $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly).

Your adjusted gross income also must be less than the amount in the above list that applies to you. For details, see Rules 1 and 15.

Investment income amount is more. The maximum amount of investment income you can have and still get the credit has increased to $3,300. See Rule 6—Your Investment Income Must Be $3,300 or Less .

Reminders

Increased EIC on certain joint returns. . A married person filing a joint return may get more EIC than someone with the same income but a different filing status. As a result, the EIC table has different columns for married persons filing jointly than for everyone else. When you look up your EIC in the EIC Table, be sure to use the correct column for your filing status and the number of children you have.

Earned income credit has no effect on certain welfare benefits. Any refund you receive because of the EIC cannot be counted as income when determining whether you or anyone else is eligible for benefits or assistance, or how much you or anyone else can receive, under any federal program or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds. These programs include the following.

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

  • Medicaid.

  • Supplemental security income (SSI).

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).

  • Low-income housing.

In addition, when determining eligibility, the refund cannot be counted as a resource for at least 12 months after you receive it. Check with your local benefit coordinator to find out if your refund will affect your benefits.

Do not overlook your state credit. If you can claim the EIC on your federal income tax return, you may be able to take a similar credit on your state or local income tax return. For a list of states that offer a state EIC, go to www.irs.gov/eitc.

EIC questioned by IRS. The IRS may ask you to provide documents to prove you are entitled to claim the EIC. We will tell you what documents to send us. These may include: birth certificates, school records, etc. The process of establishing your eligibility will delay your refund.

Spanish version of Publication 596. You can order Publicación 596SP, Crédito por Ingreso del Trabajo, from the IRS. It is a Spanish translation of Publication 596. See How To Get Tax Help to find out how to order this and other IRS forms and publications.

Photographs of missing children. The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.

Comments and suggestions. We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.You can write to us at the following address:

 
Internal Revenue Service 
Individual Forms and Publications Branch 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.You can send your comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs/. Click on “More Information” and then on “Comment on Tax Forms and Publications.” Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Ordering forms and publications. Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs/ to download forms and publications, call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676), or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

 
Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions. If you have a tax question, check the information available on IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.


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