Money and Debt

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

If you earn a low or moderate income, you may qualify for a tax refund called EITC. Learn more about qualifying for the EITC.

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Understanding the Basics

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The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax refund for working people who earn low or moderate income. The amount depends on your income and marital status, plus the number of qualifying children you have.

To claim the EITC, you must file a tax return.

Qualifying for EITC

To qualify for the EITC, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or “resident alien.” Resident alien means that you have a green card or meet a residency requirement.
  • Have a Social Security number. You must have a Social Security number to qualify for the EITC. If you have a spouse, they must also have a Social Security number.
  • Work full-time or part-time. You must have earned income including money from wages, tips, self-employment or long-term disability payments paid by your employer.
  • Submit taxes. You must use the filing status "Single," "Married Filing Jointly" or "Head of Household." You cannot use the filing status "Married Filing Separately."
  • Have “qualifying children” or be 25 to 64 years old.

The IRS offers a free online tool to help you figure out if you’re eligible for the EITC, if your children count as “qualifying children” and estimate the amount of your credit. 

EITC and public benefits

Your EITC will not affect your current eligibility for benefits including food stamps, low-income housing, cash assistance and SSI. If you do not spend your EITC, it may become an asset that affects your eligibility for future public benefits.

If you are denied public benefits because of your EITC, contact your local legal aid. They may be able to help.

If the IRS denies your EITC claim

If you think you qualify for the EITC and the IRS denies your claim, contact your local legal aid. They can help you appeal your claim.

Free tax-filing resources

Most people with low or moderate income can do their taxes for free using FreeFile’s brand-name software or fillable forms.

To do your taxes for free:

  • Visit It’s available 24/7.
  • Choose an option. Use the “online lookup” tool or browse all offers to find a good match.
  • Leave the IRS site. On an IRS partner’s website, begin your return safely and securely.

Also, you may qualify for free tax help from:

  • VITA. If you have low income, disability or limited English skills, you may qualify for free tax help from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
  • TCE. If you are at least 60 years old, you can receive free tax help from Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).

To find the nearest VITA site near you, use the VITA locator tool or call (800) 906-9887. VITA services may vary by location. Please check with your local VITA site to find out what options are available.


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