Qualifying for the Earned Income Tax Credit

You qualify for EITC if:

Use the EITC Assistant to find out your filing status, if your child is a qualifying child, if you are eligible, and estimate the amount of the credit you may get.

EITC has special rules for members of the military, members of the clergy, and taxpayers with certain types of disability income or children with disabilities.

Basic Rules

Social Security Number

You, your spouse and any qualifying child you list on your tax return must each have a Social Security number that is valid for employment that was issued before the due date of your return (including extensions).

Filing Status

You must file:

  • Married filing jointly
  • Head of household
  • Qualifying widow or widower
  • Single

You can’t claim EITC if your filing status is married filing separately.

If you, or your spouse, are a nonresident alien, see Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, to find out if you are eligible for EITC.

Income Earned During 2017

  • Your tax year investment income must be $3,450 or less for the year.
  • Must not file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
  • Your total earned income must be at least $1.
  • Both your earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must be no more than:
Filing Status Qualifying Children Claimed
Zero One Two Three or more
Single, Head of Household or Surviving Spouse $15,010 $39,617 $45,007 $48,340
Married Filing Jointly $20,600 $45,207 $50,597 $53,930

For previous years, see EITC Income Limits, Maximum Credit and Tax Law Updates.

Additional Rules

I Have a Qualifying Child

If you, and your spouse if filing a joint return, meet the criteria above and you have a child who lives with you, you may be eligible for EITC. Each child you claim must pass the relationship, age, residency and joint return tests to be your qualifying child. See the Qualifying Child Rules for guidance.

I Don’t Have a Qualifying Child

If you and your spouse, if filing a joint return, meet the basic EITC rules for everyone,you qualify for EITC if:

  • You resided in the United States for more than half of the year; AND
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent or qualifying child on anyone else’s return; AND
  • You must have been at least 25 but under 65 years old at the end of the tax year.


Special EITC Rules

Special EITC rules for members of the military, ministers, members of the clergy, those receiving disability benefits and those impacted by disasters.

Disability and EITC

Many persons with disabilities or persons having children with disabilities qualify for EITC.

When Can I Expect My Refund?

If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC) on your tax return, by law the IRS can’t issue your refund before mid-February — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. Find out more on when to expect your refund.

After you file your return, the best way to track your refund is Where’s My Refund? or the IRS2Go mobile app.