Find out if you benefit from the earned income tax credit

Jan 30, 2020

This article was first published by the IRS and has been reproduced with permission. Subscribe to IRS tax tips here.

The earned income tax credit benefits working individuals and families with low to moderate incomes. EITC can lower a taxpayer's taxes, and even result in a refund.

To take advantage of this credit, taxpayers must file a tax return and claim the credit. They should do so even if they don't owe tax and aren't required to file. EITC can be worth up to $6,557 for tax year 2019.

Taxpayers should first find out if they qualify for the credit. Here are some things for taxpayers to consider:

  • Major life events may cause taxpayers to move in and out of eligibility for the credit from year to year. Because of this, it's a good idea for people to find out if they qualify.
  • Eligible taxpayers must have earned income from working for an employer or from running or owning a business or farm. They must also meet basic rules.
  • Taxpayers without children may also qualify for EITC.
  • Taxpayers can't claim EITC if their filing status is married filing separately.Taxpayers must have valid Social Security numbers for themselves, their spouse, and any qualifying child listed for the credit on their tax return.

Before claiming the credit, taxpayers should also learn the EITC rules:

  • Taxpayers may be married or unmarried. If married, they must file a joint return.
  • Those who claim the credit without a qualifying child must meet rules for age, residency and dependency.
  • For a child to qualify, they must live with the taxpayer for more than six months of the year.
  • In addition, the child must meet rules for age, relationship, support, citizenship and joint return.
  • Special rules apply for members of the U.S. military serving in a combat zone.

Taxpayers can use the EITC Assistant to determine if they're eligible for the credit. This tool also estimates the amount of the taxpayer's credit. The EITC Assistant is available in English or Spanish.

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