You work. Let EITC work for you!

by Lisa Garza, director, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Legal Aid of Western Missouri

For the last 40 years, Earned Income Tax Credit has made life better for millions of workers. You may have extra money waiting for you; if you qualify and claim the credit, it could be as much as $6,242 from the IRS.

Don’t be the one in five that misses this credit. If you or someone you know earned less than $53,267 from wages, running a business or farm, or from Form 1099 MISC, check it out. Use the EITC Assistant, available late January, to answer questions about yourself and other family members, see if you qualify, and estimate the amount of your credit.

EITC eligibility depends on several factors, including income and family size. If you don’t have a qualifying child and earned under $20,330, you can find out if you qualify for a smaller credit worth as much as $503. Don’t guess about EITC eligibility. Instead, use the EITC Assistant to find out if you do, and see what other tax credits are available. Here are a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • Children must meet certain relationship, age, residency and joint return requirements to be a qualifying child. To check if your child qualifies you for EITC, see “Qualifying Child Rules” on or Publication 596.
  • Take the credit you’re due. The EITC credit ranges from:
    • $11 to $6,269 with three or more qualifying children
    • $10 to $5,572 with two qualifying children
    • $9 to $3,373 with one qualifying child
    • $2 to $506 with no qualifying children
  • If you qualify for EITC, you must file a federal income tax return and claim the credit to get it, even if you owe no tax or aren’t required to file a return.
  • If you qualify for EITC, see what other child-related tax credits you may be eligible to claim.
  • Workers at risk for overlooking this important credit include those:
    • Living in non-traditional homes, such as a grandparent raising a grandchild
    • Whose earnings declined or whose marital or parental status changed
    • Without children
    • With limited English skills
    • Living in rural areas
    • Who are Native Americans
    • With earnings below the filing requirement
    • Who have disabilities or are raising children with disabilities

It’s easy to find free tax help to prepare and file your taxes. Use the VITA locator tool on to find a volunteer site near you. Or, you can prepare and e-file your own taxes with brand-name software using IRS’s Free File.

Below are links to more information on EITC and other tax credits:

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