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The Earned Income Tax Credit (or EIC/EITC)

Can I claim the EIC?

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC or EITC) is a refundable credit for workers who earn low or moderate incomes. This credit is meant to supplement the income you have earned through working, whether for yourself (self-employed) or for someone else. If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit you can reduce your taxes and increase your tax refund. The EITC allows more working people and their families to keep more of their hard-earned money.

The EITC is for earned income only and there are income limits that are adjusted every year, so even if you didn’t qualify for the EITC in the past, you may be able to claim it this year.

Check out the sections below for more information about the Earned Income Tax Credit:

EITC Qualifications

Earned Income, What it is and isn't

How Much Earned Income Tax Credit Do I Get?

How To Claim the EITC

EITC Qualifications

It is estimated that 1 out of 5 people who qualify for the EITC don't claim it on their tax returns. Those people most in danger of missing out on their Earned Income Tax Credit include:

  • self-employed
  • people living in rural areas
  • grandparents raising their grandchildren
  • recently divorced
  • recently unemployed
  • taxpayers with no children
  • recipients of disability benefits

Don't let this happen to you! When you prepare your tax return on efile.com, we will automatically check to see if you qualify for the EITC, calculate the amount of your credit, and fill out the right forms for you to claim it.

Remember: even if you don't owe income tax, you could still get the EITC as a tax refund, but you have to file a return to claim it.

Use the free Earned Income Credit Educator below to see if you qualify for the EITC:

Can I Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or

Open the Earned Income Tax Credit Tax Tool in New Window

EITC Income Qualifications

For Tax Year 2018, the EITC phases out entirely (is not available) for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of:

  • $15,270 with no Qualifying Children ($20,950 if married filing jointly)
  • $40,320 with one Qualifying Child ($46,010 if married filing jointly)
  • $45,802 with two Qualifying Children ($51,492 if married filing jointly)
  • $49,194 with three or more Qualifying Children ($54,884 if married filing jointly)

For Tax Year 2017, the EITC phases out entirely (is not available) for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of:

  • $15,010 with no Qualifying Children ($20,600 if married filing jointly)
  • $39,617 with one Qualifying Child ($45,207 if married filing jointly)
  • $45,007 with two Qualifying Children ($50,597 if married filing jointly)
  • $48,340 with three or more Qualifying Children ($53,930 if married filing jointly)

You also must meet a number of other requirements:

  • You, your spouse if married filing jointly, and any Qualifying Children you claim must each have a valid Social Security Number.
  • You must have earned income (from employment or self-employment).
  • Your filing status cannot be married filing separately.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the whole year, or a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint return.
  • You cannot be the Qualifying Child (for the Earned Income Credit) of another person.
  • Your Qualifying Child for the EITC cannot be used by more than one person to claim the EITC.
  • If you do not have a Qualifying Child, you must:
    • be older than 25 but younger than 65 at the end of the year
    • live in the United States for more than half the year
    • not be the Qualifying Child of another person.
  • You cannot file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (Foreign Earned Income).
  • Your investment income for the year must be $3,450 or less for Tax Year 2017, and $3,500 or less for Tax Year 2018

Special Note for Single Workers with No Children: Single filers with no dependents are believed by the IRS to be the largest group of Qualifying taxpayers who do not claim the EITC on their tax returns. Please do not fall into this trap! Even if you are not married and/or have no children, you may still be able to claim the credit. You qualify for the EITC as long as you were between the ages of 25 and 65 on Dec. 31 of the tax year, you earned income through work, and you met the income limits specified above.

Earned Income, What it is and isn't

Earned income is any money you were paid for doing work or performing a service, whether you work for yourself or for someone else. The following are examples of earned income:

  • Salaries
  • Wages
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Royalties
  • Self-employment net earnings
  • Statutory employee gross pay
  • Jury duty pay
  • Union strike benefits
  • Long-term disability benefits received before minimum retirement age
  • Nontaxable combat pay, if you choose to include it (see special EITC rules)

Earned income does NOT include:

Learn more about other types of taxable income

How Much Earned Income Tax Credit Do I Get?

The amount of Earned Income Credit you get depends on several factors. In general, your credit is more valuable if you have one or more Qualifying Children.

For 2018, the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit per taxpayer is:

  • $520 with no Qualifying Children
  • $3,468 with one Qualifying Child
  • $5,728 with two Qualifying Children
  • $6,444 with three or more Qualifying Children

For 2017, the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit per taxpayer is:

  • $510 with no Qualifying Children
  • $3,400 with one Qualifying Child
  • $5,616 with two Qualifying Children
  • $6,318 with three or more Qualifying Children

The EITC can be confusing. If you need more help determining if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and figuring the exact amount of your credit, you should just begin preparing a tax return using efile.com and we will calculate your EITC credit amount for you.

Special Rules for EITC

  • Members of the Military - Members of the armed forces do not normally include nontaxable pay, such as combat pay, in their earned income when calculating the Earned Income Credit. However, they may choose to include nontaxable pay in their earned income for the purposes of calculating the EITC. This may have the effect of increasing their credit amount.
  • Members of the Clergy - The housing allowance provided for a member of the clergy as a part of their pay is not normally included in taxable income, but it is reported as a part of their net earnings from self-employment. Therefore, the housing allowance (or rental value of the home) may be included in earned income for the purposes of calculating the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Those Receiving Disability Benefits - Disability retirement benefit payments are included in earned income if you are younger than your minimum retirement age (the earliest age you could have received a pension had you not been disabled). After your minimum retirement age, any disability benefit payments will be considered taxable pension payments and may not be counted as earned income. Social Security Disability Insurance and private disability insurance payments for which you paid the premiums are not considered earned income for the purposes of calculating the EITC.
  • Adopted Children - If your adopted child has not yet been issued a Social Security Number, he/she may be assigned an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number for tax purposes. Unfortunately, this number may not be used to claim a Qualifying Child for the Earned Income Credit. To claim the EITC, you may file an amended tax return once your child has been assigned their SSN. Learn more about tax amendments. If you have adopted a child, find out about the Adoption Tax Credit.

State and Local Earned Income Tax Credits

Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, New York City, and Montgomery County, MD, have their own Earned Income Tax Credits. If you are filing a tax return for one of these states, we will help determine if you qualify for a state or local EITC, as well as the Federal EITC, when you prepare your tax return on efile.com.

States with Local Earned Income Tax Credits:

  1. Delaware
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Illinois
  4. Indiana
  5. Iowa
  6. Kansas
  7. Louisiana
  8. Maine
  9. Maryland
  10. Massachusetts
  11. Michigan
  12. Minnesota
  13. Montgomery County, Maryland
  14. Nebraska
  15. New Jersey
  16. New Mexico
  17. New York
  18. New York City, NY
  19. Oklahoma
  20. Oregon
  21. Rhode Island
  22. Vermont
  23. Virginia
  24. Wisconsin

How To Claim the EITC

When you prepare your tax return on efile.com, we will automatically check to see if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you qualify for the EITC, efile.com will calculate the exact amount of your credit for you. It will also generate the form(s) you need to claim your full credit and prepare them for you.

If you need more Information on the Earned Income Tax Credit you can review IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC).

See other tax credits and tax deductions you may qualify for on your tax return.