Earned income tax credits: What are they and how do I qualify?

Stop leaving money on the table. See if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credits.

Word tiles spelling out Earned Income Tax Credit
Squares spell the words “EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT"

Did you know, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), that one in five of all workers in the United States earned poverty-level wages or below and did not claim valuable tax credits? So, if wages are low and not rapidly growing, how do you keep up with rising food, housing, child care and other costs? One way the federal government helps is through Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC).

What are earned income tax credits?

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), EITC is a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income. It reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund up to $6557.

How do you qualify and how do you get EITC?

In order to claim EITC you must meet the following guidelines per the IRS :

  1. Have a valid social security number
  2. Must have operated/run a farm, business, or have worked for someone.
  3. Cannot file married filing separately
  4. You are a Citizen of the U.S. or a resident alien all year, or married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  5. You cannot be a qualifying child on someone else’s taxes
  6. You cannot file forms 2555 or 2555EZ
  7. You must meet one of the following:
    1. Have a qualifying child
    2. If you don’t have a qualifying child:
      1. You must be 25 years old but under 65 years old by the end of the year
      2. Not qualify as a dependent for someone else
  8. You must fall within the earned income, adjusted gross income and investment income limits for the tax year.

Check the earned income and investment income limits for this tax year. They vary by the number of people in the household. Many states, including Michigan, currently have a state EITC tax credit as well.

It is very important to note: Even if you are not required to file or you owe no tax, if you qualify for the earned income tax credit you must file a tax return with the IRS and your state to receive your benefits.

To learn more about qualifying and claiming earned income tax credits, visit the IRS EITC homepage. To find out more, the IRS has also set up a question and answer page.

Michigan State University Extension offers financial management and home ownership education classes. For more information of classes in your area, go to either the MSU Extension events feed or MI Money Health.

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