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If You Work, The Earned Income Tax Credit Can Work For You!

IRS Tax Tip 2015-09, January 30, 2015                                                                   Español

Since 1975, the Earned Income Tax Credit has helped workers with low and moderate incomes get a tax break each year. Four out of five eligible workers claim EITC, but the IRS wants everyone who is eligible to claim this credit. Here are some things you should know about this valuable credit:

  • Review your eligibility.  If you worked and earned under $52,427, you may qualify for EITC. If your financial or family situation has changed, you should review the EITC eligibility rules. You might qualify for EITC this year even if you didn’t in the past. If you qualify for EITC you must file a federal income tax return and claim the credit to get it. This is true even if you are not otherwise required to file a tax return. Don’t guess about your EITC eligibility. Use the EITC Assistant tool on IRS.gov. The tool helps you find out if you qualify and estimates the amount of your EITC.

  • Know the rules.  You need to understand the rules before you claim the EITC, to be sure you qualify. It’s important that you get this right. Here are some factors you should consider:

o Your filing status can’t be Married Filing Separately.

o You must have a Social Security number that is valid for employment for yourself, your spouse if married, and any qualifying child listed on your tax return.

o You must have earned income. Earned income includes earnings from working for someone else or working for yourself.

o You may be married or single, with or without children to qualify. If you don’t have children, you must also meet age, residency and dependency rules. If you have a child who lived with you for more than six months of 2014, the child must meet age, residency, relationship and the joint return rules to qualify.

o If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in a combat zone, special rules apply.

  • Lower your tax or get a refund.  The EITC reduces your federal tax and could result in a refund. If you qualify, the credit could be worth up to $6,143. The average credit was $2,407 last year.

  • Use free services.  If you do your own taxes, the best way to file your return to claim EITC is to use IRS Free File. Free brand-name software will figure your taxes and EITC for you. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get your refund. Free File is available exclusively on IRS.gov/freefile. Free help preparing and e-filing your return to claim your EITC is also available at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites around the country. You can also get help with the new health care law tax provisions.

For more information, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. It’s available in English and Spanish on IRS.gov.

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Additional IRS Resources:  

IRS YouTube Videos:

  • See If You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit – English | ASL (Obsoleted)
  • Earned Income Tax Credit - 2015 – Spanish (Obsoleted)

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 20-Nov-2015