Topic 601 - Earned Income Credit

You may qualify for the earned income tax credit (EITC), if you worked last year, but did not earn a lot of money.

EITC is a refundable tax credit meaning you could qualify for a tax refund even if you did not have federal income tax withheld.

To qualify for the credit your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be below a certain amount and you must:

  • Have a valid Social Security Number (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also must have a valid Social Security Number)
  • Have earned income from employment or from self-employment
  • Have a filing status other than married filing separately
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year, or a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint return
  • Not be a qualifying child of another person (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also cannot be a qualifying child of another person)
  • Not have investment income over a certain amount
  • Not file Form 2555 (PDF) or Form 2555-EZ (PDF) (related to foreign earned income), and
  • Have a qualifying child who meets four tests (the age, relationship, residency and joint return tests) or:
    • be age 25 but under 65 at the end of the year
    • live in the United States for more than half the year, and
    • not qualify as a dependent of another person

If you qualify, the amount of your EITC will depend on your filing status, whether you have children, the number of children you have, and the amount of your wages and income last year.

For more information or to see if you qualify, go to the EITC Home Page on IRS.gov or call 800-829-3676 and request Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: August 11, 2014