EITC Pages

Earned Income Tax Credit, EIC or EITC

earned income tax credit

Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
D. Hoefler @johnwestrock

The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC or EIC - is a refundable tax credit for taxpayers who earn low or moderate incomes. This credit is meant to supplement your earned income; income you earned through either working for an organization (e.g. via form W-2 etc.) or working for yourself - self-employed. 

 Earned Income Tax Credit Overview

The EIC and the Child Tax Credit are two of the most beneficial tax credits for taxpayers. The EIC is fully refundable and the Child Tax Credit is partially refundable. These credits can lower your taxes due or even add to your tax refund. The eFile tax preparation platform will calculate these credits for you and will let you know if you qualify or not.

If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you can reduce your taxes and increase your tax refund. The EITC allows taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. The credit is based on your total earned income OR your total Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), whichever is higher. For example, if you have unemployment, it is not considered earned income however it will be included in your AGI since unemployment is taxable income. The income limits get adjusted every year, so even if you did not qualify for the EITC in the past, you might qualify now and be able to claim it this year on your return. 

Do you Qualify for the 2022 Earned Income Tax Credit?

We have easy ways for you to find out if you qualify for the EITC and what your 2022 EIC amount might actually be in 2023. Launch the EITCucator below, answer a few important question about yourself and voila;  you will get your answer. No need to read lots of Tax Mumbo Jumbo!

Use the EITCucator

Let's make IT happen! IT is Income Taxes. Start Your 2022 Return now and the eFile Tax App will figure this all out for you. No guessing, wondering, nor guessing about IT. Start and PrepareIT, but not alone. We are there with you all the way.

EITC Requirements, Qualifications

What would taxes be without more requirements? It is estimated that 1 out of 5 people who qualify for the EITC think they don't qualify for it , don't know about it, or used to not claim it on their tax returns. You do not have to worry about this if you eFile your tax return on eFile.com. The eFile Tax App will detect if you qualify for the Earned Income Credit or not based on the information entered. If you are so inclined you can read more about the EITC here: EITC Overview.

The following taxpayers are more likely to not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit if they don't use a tax program like eFile.com:

Single taxpayers with no children or dependents are the largest group of qualifying taxpayers who think they do not qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit on their taxes or they did not claim the EITC on their tax returns in the past. Attention: 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 at least 25 but younger than 65 on December 31 of the tax year, you earned income through work, and you met the income limits specified above. Important:  For 2021 returns, the EIC age limit was changed - taxpayers age 19 and older may qualify. eFileIT and you know you will not miss IT!

Other taxpayers that frequently think they do not qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit are: the self-employed, taxpayers in rural areas, grandparents raising their grandchildren, recently divorced couples, recently unemployed taxpayers, taxpayers with no children, and recipients of disability benefits.

Again, 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.

Important: Even if you don't owe income taxes or you think you don't have to file a return, you could still get the Earned Income Tax Credit as a form of a tax refund when you prepare and e-file or file a return. First, start and use the free EICucator tax tool - Earned Income Credit Educator - to see if you qualify for the EITC.

For specifics, see below for income limits and other criteria for current, future, and previous year returns. The tables below (current, future, and previous) indicate the minimum amount of earned income to claim the credit, the amount at which the credit begins to phaseout, the maximum AGI for a taxpayer based on their filing status to claim any of the credit, the maximum credit amount, and the investment income limit.

  • Important Note for 2021 NOT 2022 returns and the EIC: As part of the third stimulus bill or American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the EITC became more beneficial for low to moderate income taxpayers on 2021 return. Specifically, the credit was significantly more helpful for single taxpayers with no dependents. Also for your 2021 EIC, you can use your 2019 earned income to determine the amount of your credit if it is higher than your 2021 earned income. Additionally, for 2021 only, specified students under age 24 without a qualified dependent may qualify if they work. They qualify if they are a former foster youth or homeless youth who would otherwise be able to claim it or are married filing jointly with someone who is eligible. Again, these changes were for 2021 Tax returns only. Scroll further down the page to see the amounts in the 2021 table. Get an idea of your tax situation before you File your 2021 return.

EITC

2022 Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, Criteria
Zero**
One
Two
Three Plus
AGI Must be Less Than for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$16,480
$43,492
$49,399
$53,057
AGI Must be Less Than for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$22,610
$49,622
$55,529
$59,187
Maximum EITC Amounts
$560
$3,733
$6,164
$6,935
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $10,300 or less
Earned Income Tax Credits in 2023, 2020 - 2016
* Qualifying Children/Persons must meet the following:
  • Age criteria - at least ONE: Less than 19 OR if a student less than 24, as of 12/31 of the tax year
  • Relationship criteria - at least ONE: son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or descendant of any of them (e.g.,  grandchild), brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or descendant of any of them (e.g., niece, nephew), lawfully adopted child, foster child if placed by an authorized agency or by judgement decree or any court competent jurisdiction
  • Residency criteria - must have lived with you in the U.S. for more than 6 months

**No qualifying children/persons must meet the following:

  • You OR your spouse (not both if filing married jointly) must be at least age 25 but under age 65 as of 12/31 of the tax year.
  • You cannot be the dependent or a qualifying child of another person
  • You must have lived in the U.S. for more than 6 months

Additional Requirements to Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

  • 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 wage employment or self-employment)
  • If you file as Married Filing Separate and claim the EITC if you had a qualifying child/person who lived with you for more than half of 2022, and EITHER of these 2 qualifications:
    • You lived apart from your spouse for the last 6 months of 2022
    • You are legally separated according to your state law under a written agreement. or a decree of separate maintenance. and you didn't live in the same household as your spouse at the end of 2022
  • 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 at least 25 but younger than 65 at the end of the tax year (Note: This age limit changed for 2021 Returns  and required the taxpayer to be at least age 19)
    • live in the United States for more than half the year
    • not be the qualifying child of another person
  • You cannot claim the Foreign Income Exclusion of your foreign earned income
  • Your dependents must have a Social Security number to qualify for a higher EITC
  • More detailed, PDF based information on the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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.

  • 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. If you have adopted a child, find out about the Adoption Tax Credit.
  • The IRS - not eFile.com - has not been processing federal tax refunds to taxpayers who are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS is required to hold the entire tax refund, including the portion not associated with the credits  mainly for security and fraud prevention reasons. The additional time will ensure taxpayers to receive the refund they’re due, not someone else.
  • Noncustodial Parents Claiming the EITC for Dependent: According to the IRS, as a noncustodial parent, you can not claim the EITC for a dependent if the custodial parent relinquished their dependency exemption and assigned it to the non-custodial parent via filing Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. You can only claim it for yourself, not the dependent - you can claim the Child Tax Credit if given permission, however. The IRS will likely you an audit letter requesting more information from you, you need to complete, sign, and mail Form 886-H-EIC to the IRS. Attach any documents listed on the form to prove that you can claim the EITC.

State and Local Earned Income Tax Credits

Twenty-four states, including the District of Columbia and New York City, have their own Earned Income Tax Credits. All of them, except Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia have refundable 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. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. Delaware
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Illinois
  8. Indiana
  9. Iowa
  10. Kansas
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine
  13. Maryland
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Michigan
  16. Minnesota
  17. Montana
  18. Nebraska
  19. New Jersey
  20. New Mexico
  21. New York
  22. New York City, NY
  23. Ohio
  24. Oklahoma
  25. Oregon
  26. Rhode Island
  27. South Carolina
  28. Vermont
  29. Virginia
  30. Wisconsin

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

EITC by Tax Year, Future and Back Taxes

Below, find previous year or back tax criteria for the EITC in the respective year.

Earned Income Credit Limits, Criteria etc. for Tax Year 2023
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2023 AGI Minimum for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$7,840
$11,750
$16,510
$15,510
2023 AGI Threshold Phaseout for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$9,800
$21,560
$21,560
$21,560
2023 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$17,640
$46,560
$52,918
$56,838
2023 AGI Threshold Phaseout for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$16,370
$28,120
$28,120
$28,1200
2023 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$24,210
$53,120
$59,478
$63,398
Maximum EITC Amounts
$600
$3,885
$6,604
$7,840
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $11,000 or less

Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2021
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2021 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$21,430
$42,158
$47,915
$51,464
2021 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$27,380
$48,108
$53,865
$57,414
Maximum EITC Amounts
$6,728 with three or more qualifying children
$5,980 with two qualifying children
$3,618 with one qualifying child
$1,502 with no qualifying children*
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $10,000 or less for Tax Year 2021*
*Substantially increased amounts due to ARPA for 2021 Returns.
Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2020
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2020 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$15,820
$41,756
$46,703
$50,162
2020 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$21,370
$46,884
$52,493
$55,952
Maximum EITC Amounts
$6,660 with three or more qualifying children
$5,920 with two qualifying children
$3,584 with one qualifying child
$538 with no qualifying children
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $3,650 or less for Tax Year 2020
Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2019
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2019 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$15,570
$41,094
$46,703
$50,162
2019 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$21,370
$46,884
$52,493
$55,952
Maximum EITC Amounts
$529 with no qualifying children
$3,526 with one qualifying child
$5,828 with two qualifying children
$6,557 with three or more qualifying children
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $3,600 or less

Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2018
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2018 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$15,270
$40,320
$45,802
$49,194
2018 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$20,950
$46,010
$51,492
$54,884
Maximum EITC Amounts
$519 with no qualifying children.
$3,461 with one qualifying child
$5,716 with two qualifying children
$6,431 with three or more qualifying children
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $3,500 or less

Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2017
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2017 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$15,051
$39,617
$45,007
$48,340
2017 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$20,600
$45,207
$50,597
$53,930
Maximum EITC Amounts
$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
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $3,450 or less

Earned Income Credit Limits, Amounts, and Criteria for Tax Year 2016
Zero
One
Two
Three Plus
2016 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Single, Head of Household, or Widowed
$14,880
$39,296
$44,648
$47,955
2016 AGI Limit for Filing Status: Married Filing Jointly
$20,430
$44,846
$50,198
$53,505
Maximum EITC Amounts
$506 with no qualifying children
$3,373 with one qualifying child
$3,373 with two qualifying children
$6,269 with three or more qualifying children
Investment Income Limit
Investment Income Limit $3,400 or less

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