Qualifying Child Rules

Your child must have a Social Security number that is valid for employment that is issued before the due date of the tax return (including extensions) and must pass all of the following tests to be your qualifying child for EITC:


  • Your son, daughter, adopted child1, stepchild, foster child2 or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchild
  • Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew


  • At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19
  • At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time student
  • At the end of the filing year, your child was any age and permanently and totally disabled3


  • Child must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States4 for more than half of the year

Joint Return

  • The child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.

IMPORTANT:  Only one person can claim the same child. If a child qualifies for more than one person and one of the persons is a parent or parents, the non-parent can claim the child only if their AGI is higher than the parent(s). If the child qualifies another relative and the parent AGI rules do not apply, the taxpayers choose. If more than one person claims the same child, IRS applies the tiebreaker rules. Read more about Qualifying Child of More Than One Person here.

Refer to Publication 596, Earned Income Credit or Publication 596 (SP)  Credito por Ingreso del Trabajo for information on the following:

  • Definition of School and Student
  • Residency Test and Homeless Shelters
  • Residency Test and Military Personnel
  • Birth or Death of a Child
  • Temporary Absences
  • Kidnapped Child


1Adopted Child. An adopted child is always treated as your own child. It also includes a child lawfully placed with you for adoption.

2Foster Child.  For EITC, a child is your foster child if the child is placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction. (An authorized placement agency includes a state or local government agency or an Indian tribal government. It also includes a tax-exempt organization licensed by a state or an Indian tribal government.)

3Permanently and totally disabled.  Your child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply: The child cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and a doctor determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last at least a year or lead to death.

4United States. This means the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It does not include Puerto Rico or U.S. possessions such as Guam.