How to Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

To claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), you must qualify and file a federal tax return.

Your refund

If you claim the EITC, your refund may be delayed. By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects most EITC/Additional CTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by March1, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

After you file your return, the best way to track your refund is Where's My Refund? or the IRS2Go mobile app.

To get your refund faster, file your taxes online and have your refund sent to you through direct deposit.

Be sure to include the Schedule EIC if you're claiming the EITC with a qualifying child.

Errors on your return will delay your refund. Avoid these common errors.

Forms to file

You must file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors.

If you have a qualifying child, you must also file the Schedule EIC (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), Earned Income Credit, to give us information about them.

Claim the EITC for prior years

You have three years to file and claim a refund from the due date of your tax return. If you were eligible, you can still claim the EITC for prior years:

  • For 2022 if you file your tax return by April 18, 2026
  • For 2021 if you file your tax return by April 18, 2025
  • For 2020 if you file your tax return by May 17, 2024

To file a prior year tax return, complete and file Form 1040 and a Schedule EIC, if you had a qualifying child.

If you filed a tax return for those years, but didn't claim the EITC and you were eligible, file an amended return. See Tax Topic 308, Amended Returns.

To find out if you were eligible, use the EITC Qualification Assistant.

Tax help

If you need help preparing your return, try one of these options:

Find out how to work with a tax professional.

Other credits you may qualify for

If you qualify for the EITC, you may also qualify for other tax credits.