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How Do I Claim EITC?

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Exclamation Point    If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until at least February 15 — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. The best way to track your refund is Where's My Refund? or the IRS2Go mobile app.

You can't get EITC, unless you file a Federal tax return and claim it. If you have a qualifying child, you must file the Schedule EIC listing the children with either the Form 1040A or the Form 1040. If you do not have a qualifying child, you can use the Forms 1040EZ or the 1040A or 1040.

Gather the Following Documents Before You Work on Your Tax Return

If you have someone prepare your tax return, bring the documents to your preparer to make sure your tax return is prepared correctly.

  • Social Security cards, a Social Security number verification letter, or other U.S. government document verification for all persons you may list on the return.
  • Birth dates for all persons you may list on return.
  • Copies of last year's federal and state returns, if you have them.
  • All income statements: Forms W-2 and 1099, Social Security, unemployment and other statements, such as pensions, stocks, interest and any documents showing taxes withheld. If you own or run a business or farm, collect records of all your income.
  • All records of expenses, such as tuition, mortgage interest, or real estate taxes. If you own or run a business or farm, collect records of all your expenses.
  • All information reporting forms such as the 1095-A, 1095-B or 1095-C.
  • Bank routing numbers and account numbers to direct deposit any refund.
  • Dependent child care information: name and address of paid caretakers and either their Social Security number or other tax identification number.

File Yourself or Get Help?

Preparing Your Own Taxes?

Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name software. You can prepare and e-file your federal return free, if you are eligible for EITC. And, many providers support state tax returns.

IRS also offers Free File Fillable Forms. This option does not offer state tax returns and performs only basic calculations. You submit the completed forms to IRS electronically for faster processing.

Using Volunteer or Paid Preparers?

Go prepared with:

  • All of the documents listed above
  • Your valid driver's license or other photo ID
  • If you e-file a joint return, both spouses to sign forms.


Watch Out for Errors

If you prepare your own return or have someone prepare it for you, you need to make sure you get it right! Even when someone prepares your return for you, you are still legally responsible for what's on it. Use the EITC Assistant to make sure you qualify.

It's Not Too Late to File for Prior Year Returns

You can still file your tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015 to claim EITC if you were eligible. But you must file to claim it! Find out more here.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 17-Feb-2017

Keep more of what you earn with an Earned Income Tax Credit. Find out if you qualify for an EITC this (button).