Earned Income Credits

Earned Income Tax Credit Rules for Everyone

To qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC, you, and your spouse if married and filing a joint return, must meet all of the following rules:

  1. Have a Social Security Number that is valid for employment
  2. Have earned income from working for someone, running or owning a business or farm or another source
  3. Cannot file as married filing separate
  4. Must be:
    •  a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year or
    •  a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, file a joint return and choose to be treated as a resident alien (for more information on making this choice, see Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens)
  5. Cannot be the qualifying child of another person
  6. Cannot file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (related to foreign earned income)
  7. Your Adjusted Gross Income and earned income must meet the limits shown on the Income Limits, Maximum Credit Amounts and Tax Law Updates Page
  8. Your investment income must meet or be less than the amount listed on the Income Limits, Maximum Credit Amounts and Tax Law Updates Page

What is Earned Income?

Earned income includes all the taxable income and wages you get from working or from certain disability payments.

There are two ways to get earned income:

You work for someone who pays you

or

You own or run a business or farm

Taxable earned income includes:

  • Wages, salaries, tips, and other taxable employee pay;
  • Union strike benefits;
  • Long-term disability benefits received prior to minimum retirement age;
  • Net earnings from self-employment if:
    • You own or operate a business or a farm or
    • You are a minister or member of a religious order
    • You are a statutory employee and have income.

Nontaxable Combat Pay election. You can elect to have your nontaxable combat pay included in earned income for EITC. The amount of your nontaxable combat pay should be shown on your Form W-2, in box 12, with code Q. Electing to include nontaxable combat pay in earned income may increase or decrease your EITC.

Examples of Income that are Not Earned Income:

  • Pay received for work while an inmate in a penal institution
  • Interest and dividends
  • Retirement income
  • Social security
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Alimony
  • Child support

Qualifying Child Rules

Your child must have a Social Security Number that is valid for employment and must pass all of the following tests to be your qualifying child for EITC:

Relationship

  • Your son, daughter, adopted child1, stepchild, foster child2 or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchild
  • Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew

Age

  • At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19
  • At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time student
  • At the end of the filing year, your child was any age and permanently and totally disabled3

Residency

  • Child must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States4 for more than half of the year

Joint Return

  • The child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child’s spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.

IMPORTANT:  Only one person can claim the same child. If a child qualifies for more than one person and one of the persons is a parent or parents, the non-parent can claim the child only if theirAGI is higher than the parent(s). If the child qualifies another relative and the parent AGI rules do not apply, the taxpayers choose. If more than one person claims the same child, IRS applies the tiebreaker rules.

 

EITC Income Limits, Maximum Credit Amounts and Tax Law Updates

2014 Tax Year

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

  • $46,997 ($52,427 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $43,756 ($49,186 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $38,511 ($43,941 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $14,590 ($20,020 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

 Tax Year 2014 Maximum Credit:

  • $6,143 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,460 with two qualifying children
  • $3,305 with one qualifying child
  • $496 with no qualifying children

Investment income must be $3,350 or less for the year.

The American Tax Relief Act of 2012

The American Tax Relief act extended the relief for married taxpayers, the expanded credit for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children and other provisions to December 31, 2017.

Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recently ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26, 2013 Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

 

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