Who Qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Low- to moderate-income workers with qualifying children may be eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) if certain qualifying rules apply to them.
You may qualify for the EITC even if you can't claim children on your tax return.
Basic Qualifying Rules
To qualify for the EITC, you must:
- Have worked and earned income under $57,414
- Have investment income below $10,000 in the tax year 2021
- Have a valid Social Security number by the due date of your 2021 return (including extensions)
- Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year
- Not file Form 2555 (related to foreign earned income)
Special Qualifying Rules
The EITC has special qualifying rules for:
- Military members
- Clergy members
- Taxpayers and their relatives with disabilities
- Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide
- Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information
- Publication 907,Tax Highlights for Persons With Disabilities
Valid Social Security Number
To qualify for the EITC, everyone you claim on your return must have a valid Social Security number (SSN). To be valid, the SSN must be:
- Valid for employment
- Issued before the due date of the tax return you plan to claim (including extensions)
For the EITC, we accept a Social Security number on a Social Security card that has the words, "Valid for work with DHS authorization," on it.
For the EITC, we don't accept:
- Individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN)
- Adoption taxpayer identification numbers (ATIN)
- Social Security numbers on Social Security cards that have the words, "Not Valid for Employment," on them
For more information about the Social Security number rules for the EITC, see Rule 2 in Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
In 2021, to qualify for the EITC, you can use one of the following statuses:
You can claim the EIC if you are married, not filing a joint return, had a qualifying child who lived with you for more than half of 2021, and either of the following apply.
- You lived apart from your spouse for the last 6 months of 2021, or
- You are legally separated according to your state law under a written separation agreement or a decree of separate maintenance and you didn't live in the same household as your spouse at the end of 2021.
There are special rules if you or your spouse are a nonresident alien.
Head of Household
You may claim the Head of Household filing status if you're not married and pay more than half the costs of keeping up your home where you live with your qualifying child. Related: About Publication 501, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.
Qualifying Widow or Widower
To file as a qualifying widow or widower, all the following must apply to you:
- You could have filed a joint return with your spouse for the tax year they died. It does not matter if you filed a joint return.
- Your spouse died less than 2 years before the tax year you're claiming the EITC and you did not remarry before the end of that year
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year
- You have a child or stepchild you can claim as a relative. This does not include a foster child.
- This child lived in your home all year, except for temporary absences. Note: There are exceptions for a child who was born or died during the year and for a kidnapped child. For more information, see Qualifying Child Rules, Residency.
- About Publication 501, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information
- Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
Keeping up a Home
If you paid more than half the total cost to keep up a home during the tax year you file your taxes, you meet the requirement of paying more than half the cost of keeping up the home.
- Rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes and home insurance
- Repairs and utilities
- Food eaten in the home
- Some costs paid with public assistance
Costs don't include:
- Money you got from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or other public assistance programs
- Clothing, education and vacations expenses
- Medical treatment, medical insurance payments and prescription drugs
- Life insurance
- Transportation costs like insurance, lease payments or public transportation
- Rental value of a home you own
- Value of your services or those of a member of your household
U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien
To claim the EITC, you and your spouse (if filing jointly) must be U.S. citizens or resident aliens.
If you or your spouse were a nonresident alien for any part of the tax year, you can only claim the EITC if your filing status is married filing jointly and you or your spouse is a:
- U.S. Citizen with a valid Social Security number or
- Resident alien who was in the U.S. at least 6 months of the year you're filing for and has a valid Social Security number
Claim the EITC Without a Qualifying Child
You are eligible to claim the EITC without a qualifying child if you meet all the following rules. You (and your spouse if you file a joint tax return) must:
- Meet the EITC basic qualifying rules
- Have your main home in the United States Virgin Islands for more than half the tax year
- Not be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else's tax return
- Be at least age 18 at the end of the tax year (usually Dec. 31)
- The minimum age to claim the EIC is generally age 19; however, if you are a qualified former foster youth or a qualified homeless youth, you need to be at least age 18.
- If you are a specified student (other than a qualified former foster youth or a qualified homeless youth), you need to be at least age 24.