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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040-EZ
taxmap/instr/i1040ez-022.htm#TXMP764a150bcircle8

Lines 8a and 8b, Earned Income Credit (EIC)

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What Is the EIC?(p14)

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The EIC is a credit for certain people who work. The credit may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax or did not have any tax withheld.
Note.(p14) If you have a qualifying child, you may be able to claim a larger credit, but you must use Schedule EIC and Form 1040A or 1040 to do so. For more information about qualifying children, see (7) in Step 1, later, and Pub. 596.

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To Take the EIC:(p14)

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For help in determining if you are eligible for the EIC, go to IRS.gov/eitc and use the EITC Assistant. This service is available in English and Spanish.
caution
If you take the EIC even though you aren't eligible and it is determined that your error is due to reckless or intentional disregard of the EIC rules, you won't be allowed to take the credit for 2 years even if you are otherwise eligible to do so. If you fraudulently take the EIC, you won't be allowed to take the credit for 10 years. See Form 8862, who must file under Definitions and Special Rules, later. You also may have to pay penalties.
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 Step 1   All Filers

1.  Is the amount on Form 1040EZ, line 4, less than $14,880 ($20,430 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to question 2.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
2.  Do you, and your spouse if filing a joint return, have a social security number that allows you to work and is valid for EIC purposes (explained later in Social security number (SSN) under Definitions and Special Rules)?
Yes.  Go to question 3.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 8a. 
3.  Did you have $3,400 or less of taxable and tax-exempt interest?
Yes.   Go to question 4.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. 
4.  Were you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, at least age 25 but under age 65 at the end of 2016? (Check Yes if you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, were born after December 31, 1951, and before January 2, 1992). If your spouse died in 2016 (or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2016), see Pub. 596 before you answer.
Yes.   Go to question 5.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. 
5.  Was your main home, and your spouse's if filing a joint return, in the United States for more than half of 2016? Members of the military stationed outside the United States, see Members of the military under Definitions and Special Rules, later, before you answer.
Yes.   Go to question 6.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 8a.
6.  Are you filing a joint return for 2016?
Yes.  Skip questions 7 and 8; go to Step 2.
No.  Go to question 7.
7.  Look at the qualifying child conditions next. Could you be a qualifying child of another person in 2016? (Check No if the other person isn't required to file, and isn't filing, a 2016 return or is filing a 2016 return only as a claim for refund (defined under Definitions and Special Rules, later).)
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 8a.
No.  Go to question 8.
A qualifying child for the EIC is someone who is another person’s...

Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child (defined later), brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew).
and
was...
Under age 19 at the end of 2016 and younger than the other person
(or the other person’s spouse if they are filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2016, a student (defined later), and younger than the other person (or the other person’s spouse if they are filing jointly)
or
Any age and permanently and totally disabled (defined later)
and
Who isn't filing a joint return for 2016 or is filing a joint return for 2016 only as a claim for refund (defined later)
and
Who lived with the other person in the United States for more than half of 2016.
caution If you didn't live with the other person for more than half of 2016 because of a temporary absence, birth, death, or kidnapping, you may still be treated as if you had lived with the other person for more than half of 2016; see Exception to time you lived with the other person, under Definitions and Special Rules, later.
8.  Can you be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2016 tax return?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 2.
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 Step 2   Earned Income

1.  Complete the following worksheet to figure your earned income.
  1.Enter the amount from Form 1040EZ, line 1
  2.Enter any amount included on Form 1040EZ, line 1, that is a taxable scholarship or fellowship grant not reported on Form W-2
  3.Enter any amount included on Form 1040EZ, line 1, that you received for work performed while an inmate in a penal institution. (Enter "PRI" and the same amount on the dotted line next to Form 1040EZ, line 1)
  4.Enter any amount included on Form 1040EZ, line 1, that you received as a pension or annuity from a nonqualified deferred compensation plan or a nongovernmental section 457 plan. (Enter "DFC" and the same amount on the dotted line next to Form 1040EZ, line 1). This amount may be shown in box 11 of Form W-2. If you received such an amount but box 11 is blank, contact your employer for the amount received
  5.Add lines 2, 3, and 4
  6.Subtract line 5 from line 1
  7.Enter all your nontaxable combat pay if you elect to include it in earned income. Also enter this amount on Form 1040EZ, line 8b. See Combat pay, nontaxable, under Definitions and Special Rules, later
    cautionElecting to include nontaxable combat pay may increase or decrease your EIC. Figure the credit with and without your nontaxable combat pay before making the election. 
  8.Add lines 6 and 7. This is your earned income
2.  Is your earned income less than $14,880 ($20,430 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to Step 3.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
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 Step 3   How To Figure the Credit

1.  Do you want the IRS to figure the credit for you?
Yes.  See Credit figured by the IRS under Definitions and Special Rules, later.
No.   Go to the Earned Income Credit (EIC) Worksheet.
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Definitions and Special Rules(p16)

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(listed in alphabetical order)taxmap/instr/i1040ez-022.htm#en_us_publink100011720
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Earned Income Credit (EIC) Worksheet—Lines 8a and 8b
1.Enter your earned income from Step 2, earlier1.  
2.Look up the amount on line 1 above in the EIC Table, later, to find the credit. Be sure you use the correct column for your filing status (single or married filing jointly).   
 Enter the credit here2.
 If line 2 is zero, stop You cannot take the credit. Enter "No" in the space to the left of line 8a.   
3.Enter the amount from Form 1040EZ, line 4 3.  
4.Are the amounts on lines 3 and 1 the same?    
  box Yes. Skip line 5; enter the amount from line 2 on line 6.    
  box No.Go to line 5.    
5.Is the amount on line 3 less than $8,300 ($13,850 if married filing jointly)?   
  box Yes. Leave line 5 blank; enter the amount from line 2 on line 6.   
  box No.Look up the amount on line 3 in the EIC Table, later, to find the credit. Be sure you use the correct column for your filing status (single or married filing jointly).   
   Enter the credit here5.
   Look at the amounts on lines 5 and 2. Then, enter the smaller amount on line 6.   
        
6.Earned income credit. Enter this amount on Form 1040EZ, line 8a6. 
caution If your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed, see Form 8862, who must file under Definitions and Special Rules, later, to find out if you must file Form 8862 to take the credit for 2016.   
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Claim for refund.(p16)
rule
A claim for refund is a return filed only to get a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid. A return isn't a claim for refund if you claim the earned income credit or any other similar refundable credit.
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Combat pay, nontaxable.(p16)
rule
If you were a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in a combat zone, certain pay is excluded from your income. See Combat Zone Exclusion in Pub. 3. You can elect to include this pay in your earned income when figuring the EIC. The amount of your nontaxable combat pay should be shown in box 12 of Form(s) W-2 with code Q. If you are filing a joint return and both you and your spouse received nontaxable combat pay, you can each make your own election. In other words, if one of you makes the election, the other one can choose whether to also make the election.
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Credit figured by the IRS.(p16)
rule
To have the IRS figure your EIC:
  1. Enter EIC in the space to the left of line 8a on Form 1040EZ.
  2. Be sure you enter the nontaxable combat pay you elect to include in earned income on Form 1040EZ, line 8b. See Combat pay, nontaxable, earlier.
  3. If your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed, see Form 8862, who must file, later.
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Exception to time you lived with the other person.(p16)
rule
Temporary absences by you or the other person for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived with the other person. A child is considered to have lived with someone for more than half of 2016 if the child was born or died in 2016 and that person’s home was the child's home for more than half the time he or she was alive in 2016. Special rules apply to members of the military (see Members of the military, later) or if the child was kidnapped (see Pub. 596).
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Form 8862, who must file.(p16)
rule
You must file Form 8862 if your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed for any reason other than a math or clerical error. But do not file Form 8862 if either of the following applies.
  1. You filed Form 8862 for another year, the EIC was allowed for that year, and your EIC has not been reduced or disallowed again for any reason other than a math or clerical error.
  2. The only reason your EIC was reduced or disallowed in the earlier year was because it was determined that a child listed on Schedule EIC was not your qualifying child.
Also, do not file Form 8862 or take the credit for the:
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Foster child. (p17)
rule
A foster child is a child who is placed with another person by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction. For more details on authorized placement agencies, see Pub. 596.
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Members of the military.(p17)
rule
If you were on extended active duty outside the United States, your main home is considered to be in the United States during that duty period. Extended active duty is military duty ordered for an indefinite period or for a period of more than 90 days. Once you begin serving extended active duty, you are considered to be on extended active duty even if you do not serve more than 90 days.
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Permanently and totally disabled.(p17)
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A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2016, the person could not engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and a doctor has determined that this condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can be expected to lead to death.
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Social security number (SSN).(p17)
rule
For the EIC, a valid SSN is a number issued by the Social Security Administration unless Not Valid for Employment is printed on the social security card and the number was issued solely to allow the recipient of the SSN to apply for or receive a federally funded benefit. However, if Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization is printed on your social security card, your SSN is valid for EIC purposes only as long as the DHS authorization is still valid.
To find out how to get an SSN, see Social Security Number (SSN), earlier, at the beginning of this Section 3. If you will not have an SSN by the date your return is due, see What if You Cannot File on Time? in Section 4, later.
If you didn't have an SSN by the due date of your 2016 return (including extensions), you can't claim the EIC on either your original or an amended 2016 return, even if you later get an SSN. Also, if a child didn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions), you can't count that child as a qualifying child in figuring the EIC on either your original or an amended 2016 return, even if that child later gets an SSN.
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Student.(p17)
rule
For purposes of this credit, a student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2016 was enrolled as a full-time student at a school, or took a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school or a state, county, or local government agency. A school includes a technical, trade, or mechanical school. It doesn't include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or a school offering courses only through the Internet.
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Welfare benefits, effect of credit on.(p17)
rule
Any refund you receive as a result of taking the EIC cannot be counted as income when determining if you or anyone else is eligible for benefits or assistance, or how much you or anyone else can receive, under any federal program or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds. These programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). In addition, when determining eligibility, the refund cannot be counted as a resource for at least 12 months after you receive it. Check with your local benefits coordinator to find out if your refund will affect your benefits.