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Federal EIC
State EITC Programs
What Is the Earned Income Credit?
Am I Eligible?
How Much EIC Will I Get?
How Do I Claim the EIC?
Frequently Asked Questions
Useful Links
  Glossary of Terms

Federal Earned Income Credit (EIC)

For more information, click on the questions below:

What is the federal Earned Income Credit (EIC)?

The federal Earned Income Credit (EIC), also known as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), is an important anti-poverty and work incentive program that is run by the federal government. The EIC helps individuals and families who earn low to moderate wages, especially working families with children.

If you qualify for the federal EIC, the tax credit will lower or eliminate any federal income taxes you owe. If you are not required to pay any taxes, or if the credit is more than the taxes you owe, you will get a refund payment from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after you file your tax return.

Many states and the District of Columbia have their own state Earned Income Credit programs for workers who live in the state and who get the federal EIC. In states with EIC programs, workers who qualify for the federal EIC can claim an additional state EIC tax credit on their state income tax returns.

Am I eligible?

To qualify for the EIC, you must have worked during the tax year, have income below the EIC income limits, file a federal tax return, and meet other eligibility requirements. For tax year 2012, your earned income and adjusted gross income must be less than the following:

Number of
qualifying children
Single /
Head of household
Married filing jointly
none $13,980 $19,190
one $36,920 $42,130
two $41,952 $47,162
three or more $45,060 $50,270

You can qualify for the Earned Income Credit if you have one or more qualifying children, or if you have no qualifying children. You must meet the additional rules that apply to your situation.

How much EIC will I get?

The amount of EIC you can get depends on your income, your marital status, and how many qualifying children you have. Workers with one or more children can get a much larger EIC than workers who do not have children.

For tax year 2012, the maximum federal EIC amounts are:

Number of
qualifying children
federal EIC
none $ 475
one $3169
two $5236
three or more $5891

The EIC amount that most workers can get is lower than these maximum figures. Eligible workers in states with state-level EIC programs can claim an additional credit on their state income tax returns.

How do I claim the EIC?

To claim the federal EIC, you must file a federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), usually by April 15th, whether or not you owe any taxes. If you have one or more qualifying children, you must include Schedule EIC. You can get the forms you need from Free File tax preparation programs, Free File Fillable Forms, online, by mail, by telephone, at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, and at libraries and post offices. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offer free help to tax filers.

To claim a state EIC, you must file a state income tax return with your state's revenue department. For state tax forms and instructions, see State EIC Programs.

Frequently asked questions

Find out how to get extra time to file your tax return, what happens if you make a mistake when you claim the EIC, and answers to other frequently asked questions about the Earned Income Credit.

Useful links

Links to other web sites with additional information about the Earned Income Credit.

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