Basic Qualifications

All Workers Claiming the EITC Must:

  • Have a  Social Security number that is valid for employment and issued before the due date of the return (including extensions)
  • Not file as married filing separate
  • Not file Form 2555 (related to foreign earned income)
  • Meet the investment income limitation
  • Have earned income
  • Not be the qualifying child of another person,
  • Generally, be a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire year.


The income limits for earned income, adjusted gross income and investment income are adjusted for cost-of-living each year. Find the dollar amounts here.


To Claim EITC With a Qualifying Child, the Child Must Pass All of the Following Tests:

  • Relationship
    • A son or daughter (including an adopted child or child lawfully placed for adoption)
    • Stepchild
    • Foster child placed by an authorized placement agency or a court with competent jurisdiction
    • Brother, sister,  half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of them
  • Age, at the end of the filing year, the child was:
    • Younger than the worker (or the worker's spouse if married filing jointly) and 
      • younger than 19
      • or, younger than 24 and a full-time student
    • Any age if permanently and totally disabled
  • Residency
    • Child must live with the worker, or the worker's spouse if filing a joint return, in the United States* for more than half of the year
  • Joint Return
    • The child can not have filed a joint return, unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a filing requirement and filed only to claim a refund.


Note: For EITC, the qualifying child does not need to meet the support test under the Uniform Definition of a Child. See Understanding Who is a Qualifying Child.


Warning: Only one person can claim the same qualifying child for EITC and other tax benefits.  If more than one person claims the same child, IRS applies the tiebreaker rules. Read more about the tiebreaker rules here.


To Claim EITC Without a Qualifying Child, You, and Your Spouse if you File a Joint Return:

  • Must have lived in the United States for more than half of the tax year,
  • Either you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) must be at least age 25 but less than age 65
  • Cannot qualify as the dependent of another person.


*Special rules apply for members of the military on extended duty outside the United States. See the military section on the Special Rules for EITC for more information.