Watch Out for These Common EITC Errors!


Errors can delay your refund or we could end up denying your EITC claim. Watch out for these common errors when claiming EITC.


Claiming a child who does not meet all the qualifying child tests: relationship, residency, age and joint return We find most of the errors occur because the child is not related to the taxpayer in one of the listed relationships or the child didn't have the same main home as the taxpayer for more than half of the tax year  (residency test). Read more about the qualifying child rules here.
More than one person claiming the same child This error often occurs because the child lived with more than one person for more than half of the tax year. But, sometimes, a taxpayer claims a child who didn't live with the taxpayer for more than half of the tax year.  Find more information on our “Qualifying Child of More Than One Person” page.
Social Security number or last name mismatches Look at the Social Security card of everyone listed on your return to make sure the name and number of each person match the records of the Social Security Administration.  Read more about Social Security Numbers and the EITC here.
Filing as single or head of household when married Unsure about your tax filing status? Use the EITC Assistant to find out! Or, use the Spanish version of the EITC Assistant.
Over- or under-reporting of income or expenses Be sure you have all your Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-MISC, and all other relevant records of your income, even if not reported on a form, before you file your return. And, you need to report all income you earn from running or owning a business or farm and deduct all allowable expenses.

Consequences of Errors on Your EITC Returns

Avoid an audit, additional tax, penalties or interest by making sure all the information on your tax return is complete and correct. Consequences for filing your returns with one or more errors apply whether you made a mistake or knowingly made an error. Find out more about the consequences of errors on your EITC returns here.

If you pay someone to prepare your return, that person and the firm the person works for have the responsibility to make sure your return is correct. Expect your preparer, whether paid or not paid, to ask you many questions to make sure your return is correct. For more information on choosing a preparer, see our page I'm Paying Someone to Do My EITC Return, What Should I Know? For more information on the preparer’s responsibilities, see our article,  Consequences of Not Meeting Your Due Diligence Requirements.

Can You Support Your Claim of a Child?

If we pick your EITC claim for an audit based on the child you claim, we ask for proof that the child is your qualifying child. Or, if you and another person claim the same child, we may ask you to send proof. The following are some of the documents you can use to support your claim.

Warning: Don't send any of the items listed unless we ask for them and then only send copies not the originals.

Relationship Test - you need to send the following documents to prove the child is related to you:

  • Birth certificates or other official documents of birth that show you are related to the child; you may have to send copies of more than one certificate. For example, if you are the grandparent, you would send a copy of your child's birth certificate showing your name and a copy of your grandchild's birth certificate showing your child's name. 
  • If the father of the child is not named on any of the birth certificates you have, you may have to send paternity test results.
  • If you are related by marriage, you may have to send a copy of the marriage certificate showing how you are related to the child
  • If the child is adopted, you may have to send the legal adoption papers, such as a court order or a letter from the authorized child placement agency, showing the child was placed with you before the adoption is final
  • Proof for full-time student:
    • Copies of official school records showing:
      • Child’s address of record (that must match your address)
      • The child was a full-time student for at least five months of the tax year (the months don’t have to be consecutive) and you may need more than one school record
      • The dates the child attended the school

Proof of Residency - you may have to send more than one of the following documents to show the child had the same main home as you for more than half of the tax year:

  • Copies of school (no report cards), medical or social services records
  • Letter on official letterhead from school, a healthcare or medical provider, social service agency, placement agency official, employer, Indian tribal official, landlord or property manager or a place of worship that shows:
    • The name of the child’s parent or guardian
    • The child’s address matching your own
    • Dates the writer knows the child lived with you
  • Daycare records or a letter from your day care provider (if the daycare provider is related to you, you must have at least one other record or letter that shows proof of residency)