Eligibility and Requirements to Receive the Earned Income Tax Credit

Thu Feb 19, 2015 16:45:49PM
A family having a discussion in a parkBy: Peter Theakston
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the few tax credits directly tailored to lower to middle income Americans who have jobs, but don't qualify for many other government benefits. It has undoubtedly helped millions of hard working Americans since it was first enacted in 1975 and is one of the most popular of tax credits in America. Many people know that this credit is geared towards working individuals with dependent children, but not having a dependent does not disqualify you from claiming the tax credit as long as you meet certain work and income requirements.

Who is eligible for the EITC?
Eligibility for the EITC depends on a variety of factors, all of which are based on a salary scale set by the Federal Government each year. First and foremost--you must be gainfully employed and make under a certain amount of money each year (which I will explain later).

You also must file your taxes jointly if you are currently married. If you file your taxes separately and are married then you will not be eligible to claim the EITC.

Other requirements include:

United States Citizen or Resident Alien with a valid Social Security Number
Not earning any foreign income
Not qualifying as a dependent of someone else
Having a qualifying child or being between the ages of 25 and 65 if you do not have a child

What are the income requirements?
This is wholly dependent on a variety of factors. The income requirements are based on a sliding scale and the amount of dependents you are claiming on your tax returns.

You are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit if you make:

$46,997 (single ) $52,427 (married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

$43,756 (single) $49,186 (married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

$38,511 (single) $43,941 (married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

$14,590 (single) $20,020 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Who is a qualifying child/dependent?
A qualifying child must meet four specific standards for you to be able to claim them on your tax returns.

Age Requirements:

Your child must be younger than 19 at the end of the year or younger than 24 if they are a full time student

Your child must be younger than your spouse

**There is no age requirement if you are caring for a permanently and totally disabled child**

Relationship Requirements:

Your child or dependent must be a son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, or a descendant. (An eligible foster child who is placed with you by order of a judge or court.)

Your dependent is your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant

Residency Requirements:

Your child or dependent must have lived with you for over half of the year

Joint Return Requirements:

Your child or dependent can not file a joint tax return or can only file a return to claim a refund, but were not required to file.

What can I claim as earned income?
Earned income is money you earn from your wages, salaries, and tips, union strike benefits, disability benefits, and self-employment income.

You are not required to claim your combat pay if you are a veteran who served overseas.

How do I know how much I'm eligible for?
This is the best part! You don't have to do anything other than file your taxes and let the IRS figure it out for you. All you have to do is follow the instructions to claim the credit when you are filing your taxes.

Hopefully this helped you figure out if you are eligible for the EITC. If you have any further questions or concerns then I would encourage you to visit the IRS website devoted to answering your questions about the EITC: Earned Income Tax Credit, Questions and Answers.
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