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Publication 17

Chapter 36
Earned Income Credit (EIC)(p227)

What's New(p227)

Earned income amount is more.(p227)
The maximum amount of income you can earn and still get the credit has increased. You may be able to take the credit if:
  • You have three or more qualifying children and you earned less than $46,997 ($52,427 if married filing jointly),
  • You have two qualifying children and you earned less than $43,756 ($49,186 if married filing jointly),
  • You have one qualifying child and you earned less than $38,511($43,941 if married filing jointly), or
  • You do not have a qualifying child and you earned less than $14,590 ($20,020 if married filing jointly).
Your adjusted gross income also must be less than the amount in the above list that applies to you. For details, see Rules 1 and 15.
Investment income amount is more.(p227)
The maximum amount of investment income you can have and still get the credit has increased to $3,350. See Rule 6.


Increased EIC on certain joint returns.(p227)
A married person filing a joint return may get more EIC than someone with the same income but a different filing status. As a result, the EIC table has different columns for married persons filing jointly than for everyone else. When you look up your EIC in the EIC Table, be sure to use the correct column for your filing status and the number of children you have.
Online help.(p227)
You can use the EITC Assistant at to find out if you are eligible for the credit. The EITC Assistant is available in English and Spanish.
EIC questioned by IRS.(p227)
The IRS may ask you to provide documents to prove you are entitled to claim the EIC. We will tell you what documents to send us. These may include: birth certificates, school records, medical records, etc. The process of establishing your eligibility will delay your refund.
The earned income credit (EIC) is a tax credit for certain people who work and have less than $52,427 of earned income. A tax credit usually means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe. The EIC may also give you a refund.

How do you get the earned income credit?(p227)

To claim the EIC, you must:
  1. Qualify by meeting certain rules, and
  2. File a tax return, even if you:
    1. Do not owe any tax,
    2. Did not earn enough money to file a return, or
    3. Did not have income taxes withheld from your pay.
When you complete your return, you can figure your EIC by using a worksheet in the instructions for Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ. Or, if you prefer, you can let the IRS figure the credit for you.

How will this chapter help you?(p227)

This chapter will explain the following.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 596  Earned Income Credit (EIC)
Form (and Instructions)
 Schedule EIC: Earned Income Credit (Qualifying Child Information)
 8862: Information To Claim Earned Income Credit After Disallowance

Do You Qualify for the Credit?(p227)

To qualify to claim the EIC, you must first meet all of the rules explained in Part A, Rules for Everyone. Then you must meet the rules in Part B, Rules If You Have a Qualifying Child, or Part C, Rules If You Do Not Have a Qualifying Child. There is one final rule you must meet in Part D, Figuring and Claiming the EIC. You qualify for the credit if you meet all the rules in each part that applies to you.

Table 36-1, Earned Income Credit in a Nutshell.(p227)

Use Table 36–1 as a guide to Parts A, B, C, and D. The table is a summary of all the rules in each part.

Do you have a qualifying child?(p227)

You have a qualifying child only if you have a child who meets the four tests described in Rule 8 and illustrated in Figure 36–1.

If Improper Claim
Made in Prior Year(p227)

If your EIC for any year after 1996 was denied or reduced for any reason other than a math or clerical error, you must attach a completed Form 8862 to your next tax return to claim the EIC. You must also qualify to claim the EIC by meeting all the rules described in this chapter.
However, if your EIC was denied or reduced as a result of a math or clerical error, do not attach Form 8862 to your next tax return. For example, if your arithmetic is incorrect, the IRS can correct it. If you do not provide a correct social security number, the IRS can deny the EIC. These kinds of errors are called math or clerical errors.
If your EIC for any year after 1996 was denied and it was determined that your error was due to reckless or intentional disregard of the EIC rules, then you cannot claim the EIC for the next 2 years. If your error was due to fraud, then you cannot claim the EIC for the next 10 years.

More information.(p227)

See chapter 5 in Publication 596 for more detailed information about the disallowance period and Form 8862.