Can You Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit?


One-third of the population eligible for EITC changes each year as their personal circumstances change,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We want workers who may qualify for EITC for the first time to have all the information they need to get the EITC and get it right.”

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) varies depending on income, family size and filing status. The IRS has upgraded the interactive EITC Assistant, at , to better help taxpayers. The EITC Assistant will help determine eligibility and will figure an estimated EITC refund based off your answers to a few questions about income, family size and filing status, among other things. You can even get a printout explaining why you do or do not qualify. Last year, over 27 million eligible workers and families received more than $63 billion total in EITC, with an average EITC amount of $2,300.

Workers, self-employed people and farmers who earned $51,567 or less last year could receive larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC. That could mean up to $487 in EITC for people without children, and a maximum credit of up to $6,044 for those with three or more qualifying children. Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, those eligible may get a refund from the IRS even if they owe no tax. 

EITC Income Limits and Maximum Credit Amounts

Earned Income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must each be less than:

·          $46,227 ($51,567 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

·          $43,038 ($48,378 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

·          $37,870 ($43,210 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

·          $14,340 ($19,680 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Tax Year 2013 maximum credit:

·          $6,044 with three or more qualifying children

·          $5,372 with two qualifying children

·          $3,250 with one qualifying child

·          $487 with no qualifying children

Investment income must be $3,300 or less for the year.

Get the Credit: How to Claim the EITC

To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return, even if they are not required to file, and specifically claim the credit.

Note: The IRS reminds taxpayers that even though most refunds are issued in less than 21 days, many factors can affect how long it takes to issue a particular refund. Some returns require additional review, causing it to take longer to process any related refunds. Taxpayers can track the status of their refund with the “ Where’s My Refund? ” tool available on


Get It Right: Avoid Errors

Taxpayers are responsible for the accuracy of their tax return regardless of who prepares it. The rules for EITC are complicated. The IRS urges taxpayers to seek help if they are unsure of their eligibility.

Some common EITC errors are:

·          Claiming a child who does not meet the relationship, age or residency tests

·          Filing as “single” or “head of household” when married

·          Over or under reporting of income and or expenses to qualify for or maximize EITC

·          Missing Social Security numbers or Social Security Number and last name mismatches for both taxpayers and the children

Taxpayers should reply promptly to any letter from the IRS requesting additional information about EITC. If taxpayers need assistance or have questions, they should call the number included in the IRS letter.

Beware of Scams

EITC provides a financial boost for millions of hard-working Americans. However, a deliberate error can have lasting impact on future eligibility to claim EITC. Beware of scams that claim to increase the EITC refund. Scams that create fictitious qualifying children or inflate income levels to get the maximum EITC could leave taxpayers with a penalty. If an EITC claim was reduced or denied after tax year 1996 for any reason other than a mathematical or clerical error, taxpayers must file Form 8862 , Information To Claim Earned Income Credit After Disallowance, with their next return to claim the credit.

More information on EITC and detailed eligibility rules are available at . IRS partners should also visit EITC Central at for helpful resources.