The Earned Income Tax Credit is a financial boost for workers earning $57,414 (Married individuals filing jointly with 3 or more qualifying children) or less a year. Four of five eligible workers claim and get their EITC. The IRS wants workers to get what you have earned, if you are eligible.
Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know about this valuable credit, which has been making the lives of working people a little easier for 30+ years.
- As your financial, marital or parental situations change from year to year, you should review the EITC eligibility rules to determine whether you qualify. Just because you did not qualify last year, does not mean you will not this year.
- If you qualify, the credit could be worth up to $6,728. EITC not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but could result in a refund. The amount of your EITC is based on your earned income and whether or not there are qualifying children in your household.
- If you are eligible for EITC, you must file a federal income tax return and specifically claim the credit – even if you are not otherwise required to file. Remember to include Schedule EIC, Earned Income Credit when you file your Form 1040 use and retain the EIC worksheet.
- Married but filing separate taxpayers can now claim the EITC starting in 2021. However, they must live with their qualifying child for more than half the year and either:
- Must not have the same principal residence as the spouse for at least six (6) months of the applicable year, or
- Are legally separated according to their state law under a written separation agreement or a decree of separate maintenance and do not live in the same household as their spouse at the end of tax year. (IRS Tax Tips)
- You must have a valid Social Security Number. You, your spouse – if filing a joint return – and any qualifying child listed on Schedule EIC must have a valid SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.
- You must have earned income. You have earned income if you work for someone who pays you wages, you are self-employed, you have income from farming, or – in some cases – you receive disability income.
- Married couples and single people without children may qualify. If you do not have qualifying children, you must also meet the age and residency requirements as well as dependency rules.
- Special rules apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat zones. Members of the military can elect to include their nontaxable combat pay in earned income for the EITC. If you make this election, the combat pay remains nontaxable.
- It’s easy to determine whether you qualify. The EITC Assistant, an interactive tool available on the IRS website, removes the guesswork from eligibility rules. Just answer a few simple questions to find out if you qualify and estimate the amount of your EITC.
- Free help is available at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites and IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to help you prepare and claim your EITC. If you are preparing your taxes electronically, the software program you use will figure the credit for you. To find a VITA site or TAC near you, visit TAC Locations or VITA/TCE Sites.
For more information about the EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. This publication – available in both English and Spanish – can be downloaded from the IRS website or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676)