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 the Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return (PDF) or Form 1040 SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors (PDF).
Note: If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC) on your tax return, by law, the IRS can't issue your refund before mid-February — even the portion of the refund not associated with EITC or ACTC.
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.
What to do if your EITC was denied in a previous year
If the IRS denied your EITC after an audit, the IRS may require you to file Form 8862 or Form 8862-SP the next time you claim EITC. See My EITC was Disallowed Previously and Now I Want To Claim EITC
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 2016, 2017 and 2018 to claim EITC if you were eligible. But you must file to claim it! Find out more here.