Topic 601 - Earned Income Credit

You may qualify for the earned income tax credit (EITC) if you worked last year but earned a low or moderate income.

EITC is a refundable tax credit, which means that you can receive a refund if the credit exceeds your tax liability.

To qualify for the credit your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be below a certain amount and you must:

  • Have a social security number (SSN) valid for employment (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also must have an SSN valid for employment) by the due date of your 2015 return (including extensions). Any qualifying child listed on Form 1040A or 1040, Schedule EIC (PDF), also must have an SSN valid for employment by the due date of your 2015 return (including extensions). See "Valid SSN required by due date of return" in Publication 596, Earned Income Credit, for more information
  • Have a filing status other than married filing separately
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year, or a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint return
  • Not file Form 2555 (PDF) or Form 2555-EZ (PDF) (related to foreign earned income)
  • Not have investment income over $3,400
  • Have earned income from employment or from self-employment
  • Not be a qualifying child of another person (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also cannot be a qualifying child of another person)
  • Have a qualifying child who:
    • meets the age, relationship, residency, and joint return tests, and
    • is not treated as the qualifying child of another person
  • Or, if you do not have a qualifying child, you must:
    • be age 25 but under 65 at the end of the year
    • not qualify as a dependent of another person, and
    • live in the United States for more than half of the year

If you qualify for the credit, the amount of your EITC will depend on your filing status, whether you have a qualifying child, and if so, how many, and the amount of your wages and income last year.

For more information or to see if you qualify, see Publication 596, Earned Income Credit, and visit Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: February 05, 2016