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Publication 926

What Do You Need To Know About the Earned Income Credit?(p9)

Certain workers can take the earned income credit (EIC) on their federal income tax return. This credit reduces their tax or allows them to receive a payment from the IRS. You also may have to give your employee a notice about the EIC.

Notice about the EIC.(p9)

Copy B of the 2016 Form W-2 has a statement about the EIC on the back. If you give your employee that copy by January 31, 2017 (as discussed under Form W-2 under What Forms Must You File, later), you don't have to give the employee any other notice about the EIC.
If you don't give your employee Copy B of the Form W-2, your notice about the EIC can be any of the following items.
  1. A substitute Form W-2 with the same EIC information on the back of the employee's copy that is on Copy B of the Form W-2.
  2. Notice 797, Possible Federal Tax Refund Due to the Earned Income Credit (EIC).
  3. Your own written statement with the same wording as in Notice 797.
If a substitute Form W-2 is given on time but doesn't have the required EIC information, you must notify the employee within one week of the date the substitute Form W-2 is given. If Form W-2 is required but isn't given on time, you must give the employee Notice 797 or your written statement about the 2016 EIC by January 31, 2017. If Form W-2 isn't required, you must notify the employee by February 7, 2017.
You must give your household employee a notice about the EIC if you agree to withhold federal income tax from the employee's wages (as discussed earlier under Do You Need To Withhold Federal Income Tax?) and the income tax withholding tables show that no tax should be withheld. Even if not required, you are encouraged to give the employee a notice about the EIC if his or her 2016 wages are less than $47,955 ($53,505 if married filing jointly).