If you qualify, the earned income credit can save you a few thousand bucks in taxes, and even guarantee a refund check.
• Makes clear who can claim this credit
• Lists the basic criteria needed to qualify
• Explains how claim it when filing either a paper return or e-filing
Make claiming tax credits easier
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If you qalify for the EIC, you could save thousands!
The Earned Income Credit (known as the EIC) is available to families and individuals with lower incomes. The credit can be as much as $5,751.
To claim it, you must have earned income, or, in other words, you must have been employed some part of the year.
However, having accumulated investment income of more than $3,100 during the tax year makes you ineligible to claim any portion of the earned income credit.
The credit you are able to claim is not only based upon your income, it is also based on the number of children for which you provide support. It is a refundable credit which means if it reduces your tax below zero you get a tax refund for that amount.
The easiest way to see if you qualify for this and any other tax credit is to take the H&R Block e-filing interview, which will automatically figure out your eligibility and the amount of credit you can claim, to the last penny. You'll be able to work on your return for free, and if you satisfy certain income requirements, you may even be able to e-file free of charge!
How much can you get back?
To qualify for the earned income credit you must meet all the income, age, and citizenship requirements.
Our earned income tax credit chart shows income limits, and corresponding earned income credit amounts for the 2011 tax season.
Earned Income Credit
Tax Year 2011
No. of Children
Earned Income/AGI Each Less Than
3 or more
Taxpayers with investment income of more than $3,150 are not eligible for the credit.
* Increase these amounts by $5,000 for joint return filers.
To claim the earned income credit, you must be between the ages of 25 and 65, and not be claimed as a dependant on anyone else's return.
You also must have maintained a home in the U.S. for at least six months last year, and if you are married, you must file jointly, as the earned income credit does not apply to persons who are married but file separately.
Other common requirements
In addition to your meeting the earned income limits, your qualifying children must meet the following criteria:
• Relationship: the child must be your son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, or foster child
• Residency: the child must have lived with you in your residence in the U.S. for at least six months.
• Age: the child must be no more 19, or 24 for full-time students, unless she is permanently and totally disabled in which case the age limit does not apply.
One more thing: if you are filing a paper return, you will need to attach schedule EIC with your return and mail it to the IRS.
But do yourself a favor: use H&R Block to file your return. It will make everything much easier.