What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that may give you money back at tax time or lower the federal taxes you owe. You can claim the credit whether you’re single or married, or have children or not. The main requirement is that you earn money from working.
In addition to the federal EITC, 29 states including Maine and the District of Columbia have adopted state EITCs. You may also be eligible for a state EITC if you worked in Maine or one of the other states that have the credit in 2018.
The credit can eliminate any federal or state tax you owe at tax time. If the EITC amount is more than what you owe in taxes, you get the money back in your tax refund. If you qualify for the credit, you can still receive a refund even if you do not owe income tax.
How much can I get with the EITC?
The credit amount depends on your income, marital status, and family size. In 2018, the credit is worth up to $6,431. The credit amount rises with earned income until it reaches a maximum amount, then gradually phases out. Families with more children are eligible for higher credit amounts.
Am I eligible for the EITC?
There are three main criteria to claim the EITC:
Income: You need to work and earn income. Your work doesn’t have to be year-round. Earned income can be from wages, salary, tips, employer-based disability, self-employment income, military pay, or union strike benefits.
Taxpayer Identification Number: You need to have social security numbers that permit work for you, your spouse, and any children claimed for the EITC. You do not need to be a citizen to claim the EITC if you have a Social Security Number. You cannot claim the EITC if you file your taxes with an ITIN. For more information, please see Tax Filing with Immigrant or DACA Status.
Qualifying Child: If you claim children for the EITC, they must be a “qualifying child”.
See this eligibility chart for more details about income limits and qualifying details. Your tax preparer can also help you determine your eligibility.
Free tax preparation assistance is available in-person and online. You can file your taxes in-person by visiting your local CA$H Maine or AARP Tax-Aide site. Alternatively, you can file your taxes online for free at My Free Taxes.