Table of Contents
For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 596, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to www.irs.gov/pub596.
The earned income credit (EIC) is a tax credit for certain people who work and have earned income under $53,267. A tax credit usually means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe. The EIC may also give you a refund.
To claim the EIC, you must meet certain rules. These rules are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. Earned Income Credit in a Nutshell
Certain people who file Form 1040 must use Worksheet 1 in this publication, instead of Step 2 in their Form 1040 instructions, when they are checking whether they can take the EIC. You are one of those people if any of the following statements are true for 2015.
You are filing Schedule E (Form 1040).
You are reporting income from the rental of personal property not used in a trade or business.
You have income or loss from a passive activity.
You are reporting an amount on Form 1040, line 13, that includes an amount from Form 4797.
If none of the statements above apply to you, your tax form instructions may have all the information you need to find out if you can claim the EIC and to figure your EIC. You may not need this publication. But you can read it to find out whether you can take the EIC and to learn more about the EIC.
No, you can qualify for the EIC without a qualifying child if you are at least age 25 but under age 65 and your earned income is less than $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly). See chapter 3.
If you can claim the EIC, you can either have the IRS figure your credit, or you can figure it yourself. To figure it yourself, you can complete a worksheet in the instructions for the form you file. To find out how to have the IRS figure it for you, see chapter 4.
You can use the index to look up specific information. In most cases, index entries will point you to headings, tables, or a worksheet.
Yes. You can use the EITC Assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc to find out if you may be eligible for the credit. The EITC Assistant is available in English and Spanish.
Valid SSN required by due date of return. If you didn't have a social security number (SSN) by the due date of your 2015 return (including extensions), you can't claim the EIC on either your original or an amended 2015 return, even if you later get an SSN. Also, if a child didn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions), you can't count that child as a qualifying child in figuring the EIC on either your original or an amended 2015 return, even if that child later gets an SSN.
Earned income amount is more. The maximum amount of income you can earn and still get the credit has increased. You may be able to take the credit if:
You have three or more qualifying children and you earned less than $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly),
You have two qualifying children and you earned less than $44,454 ($49,974 if married filing jointly),
You have one qualifying child and you earned less than $39,131 ($44,651 if married filing jointly), or
You don't have a qualifying child and you earned less than $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly).
Your adjusted gross income also must be less than the amount in the above list that applies to you. For details, see Rules 1 and 15.
Investment income amount is more. The maximum amount of investment income you can have and still get the credit has increased to $3,400. See Rule 6—Your Investment Income Must Be $3,400 or Less .
Increased EIC on certain joint returns. . A married person filing a joint return may get more EIC than someone with the same income but a different filing status. As a result, the EIC table has different columns for married persons filing jointly than for everyone else. When you look up your EIC in the EIC Table, be sure to use the correct column for your filing status and the number of children you have.
Earned income credit has no effect on certain welfare benefits. Any refund you receive because of the EIC cannot be counted as income when determining whether you or anyone else is eligible for benefits or assistance, or how much you or anyone else can receive, under any federal program or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds. These programs include the following.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Supplemental security income (SSI).
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
In addition, when determining eligibility, the refund cannot be counted as a resource for at least 12 months after you receive it. Check with your local benefit coordinator to find out if your refund will affect your benefits.
Don't overlook your state credit. If you can claim the EIC on your federal income tax return, you may be able to take a similar credit on your state or local income tax return. For a list of states that offer a state EIC, go to www.irs.gov/eitc.
EIC questioned by IRS. The IRS may ask you to provide documents to prove you are entitled to claim the EIC. We will tell you what documents to send us. These may include: birth certificates, school records, etc. The process of establishing your eligibility will delay your refund.
Spanish version of Publication 596. Publicación 596SP, Crédito por Ingreso del Trabajo, is a Spanish translation of Pub. 596. Go to www.irs.gov/pub596sp. Or see Ordering forms and publications or How To Get Tax Help , later, to find out how to order this and other IRS forms and publications.
Photographs of missing children. The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
Comments and suggestions. We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.You can send us comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs. Click on “More Information” and then on “Give us feedback.” Or you can write to:
Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224
We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications. Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to www.irs.gov/orderforms to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
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