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Earned Income Tax Credit: Who qualifies for EITC?

Mark Steber

Chief Tax Information Officer

Published on: August 11, 2023

You work hard all year long to help make a better life for you and your family. There are certain tax credits that help you save money when filing your taxes. One of the most important is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Continue reading to find out about how to qualify, how the EITC is calculated, how to claim the EITC, and more.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): How to qualify in 2023–2024

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low- to middle-income workers. The credit amount depends on earned income, filing status, and number of children. A refundable credit means that if the credit is more than the taxes you owe, you receive it back as a tax refund. Broadly speaking, the less you earn, the larger the credit. Families with children often qualify for the largest credits. That said, if you don’t have children, you may still qualify for a lower credit amount.

For the 2023 tax year—for your taxes filed in 2024—the tax credit ranges from $600 to $7,430, depending on your filing status, income, and number of children. We will go into more detail below.

What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

The EITC helps taxpayers working hard to make ends meet. The earned income tax credit can reduce the amount of taxes you owe and can be refunded to you when the amount of credit is greater than your taxes. This can mean a bigger refund and, in many instances, that refund could be even more than you had withheld from your paycheck or your estimated payments.

Who qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit?

As mentioned above, for the 2023 tax year, the EITC varies from $600 to $7,430, depending on your filing status, earned income, adjusted gross income (AGI) and how many children you have.

It’s important to note that both your earned income and your AGI must be less than the levels in the table. Your earned income typically is comprised of job wages, salary, tips, other taxable pay you get from your employer and your net self-employment income from a small business, freelance or contract work, and any gig work. Your AGI is your all of your income, including the earned income, minus certain deductions.

The table below shows an overview of the maximum 2023 EITC amounts, plus the most you can earn before disqualifying from the benefit altogether.

EITC benefits by number of children and filing status

Number of children

Maximum EITC

Max AGI, single or head of household filers

Max AGI, married joint filers













3 or more




Source: Internal Revenue Service

Earned Income Tax Credit 2023

To qualify for the EITC in 2023, you must have made at least $1 of earned income. There are also other IRS rules and requirements, including:

  • Investment income cap: Your investment income must be $11,000 or less in 2023.
  • Having a valid Social Security number by the due date of your 2023 tax return.
  • Being a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.
  • Annual earnings: You must have at least $1 of earned income (pensions and unemployment don't count).
  • Foreign income: You must not file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ.
  • Age: If you're claiming the EITC without any qualifying children, you must be at least 25 years old, but not older than 65. If you're claiming jointly without a child, only one spouse needs to meet the age requirement.
  • Special rules for separated couples: You can qualify for the EITC if you’re separated but still married. To do so, you can’t file a joint tax return and your child must live with you for more than half the year. You also must not have lived with your spouse during the last six months of the year, or you must have a legal separation agreement or decree.

There are special earned income credit rules for the military and the clergy, as well as for people who have disability income or who have children with disabilities.

How is the EITC calculated?

We offer a free online tool to get an estimate of your EITC credit. Our tool uses the latest information provided by the IRS. To use it, you’d gather your tax documents including W-2s, 1099s, and other income and expense statements to complete the information. This is for estimate purposes only. A Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro can help you get the largest refund and file the most accurate tax return with you.

How do I know if I claimed EITC?

To claim the EITC, you must file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, or Form 1040 SR, Tax Return for Seniors.

If you have a qualifying child, you must also file the Schedule EIC, (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR), Earned Income Tax Credit to give the IRS information about your dependents.

Your Tax Pro can help guide you through claiming the EITC. Once done, you can check your Form 1040 to know if you've claimed the credit. It'll be on Earned Income Tax Credit line 27a.

Can I claim the EITC without a child?

As mentioned above, even if you don’t have a qualifying child, you may be able to claim the EITC. You’d have to meet the income requirements for your filing status, while also fitting the criteria below:

  • You must have lived in the United States for more than half the year.
  • No one can claim you as a dependent or qualifying child on their tax return.
  • You must be at least 25 years old, but not older than 64. If married filing jointly, at least one spouse must meet the age requirement.

What disqualifies you from the EITC?

You may not qualify for the EITC if you don’t meet certain income, residency and dependent relationship requirements outlined above. If the IRS audits your claim for a credit, it may be because:

  • Your child doesn’t qualify,
  • Another person claimed the same child, or
  • You claimed the EITC without a child and didn’t satisfy the requirements mentioned above.

It’s important to note that if you claim the EITC, your refund may be delayed. By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects most EITC-related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by March 1, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

Because this can be complex, your Tax Pro can work with you to make sure that you’re filing correctly and claiming the credit per the IRS guidelines. The IRS changes the income thresholds to keep up with inflation and your Tax Pro can help you keep up to date and maximize any potential tax refund. Connect with a Jackson Hewitt Tax Pro near you to find out more.

About the Author

Mark Steber is Senior Vice President and Chief Tax Information Officer for Jackson Hewitt. With over 30 years of experience, he oversees tax service delivery, quality assurance and tax law adherence. Mark is Jackson Hewitt’s national spokesperson and liaison to the Internal Revenue Service and other government authorities. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), holds registrations in Alabama and Georgia, and is an expert on consumer income taxes including electronic tax and tax data protection.

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