Earned Income Credit (EITC or EIC)

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If you earn income and make less than $48,340 in 2017 ($53,930 if filing jointly), you may qualify for the earned income credit. This credit is refundable – meaning you may get more money in your refund than you had withheld from your pay. In fact, you may get money back even if you didn't have any income tax withheld from your pay.

The earned income credit can be substantial – up to $6,269.

The income limitations are highest for taxpayers with three or more children. To receive this credit, both your earned income and adjusted gross income must be less than:

  • $48,340 ($53,930 if filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children
  • $45,007 ($50,597 if filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children
  • $39,617 ($45,207 if filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child
  • $15,010 ($20,600 if filing jointly) if you have no qualifying children

Qualifying for the Earned Income Credit

To qualify for the earned income credit, you must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN). If your card or your spouse's card (if filing jointly) says Not valid for employment and you received a SSN so you could get a federally funded benefit, you cannot claim the credit.

You must not use the Married Filing Separately filing status. You must be a U.S. citizen or resident all year, unless you file jointly, one spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and you choose to treat the nonresident spouse as a U.S. resident. You cannot claim the earned income credit if you deduct or exclude foreign income or housing on Form 2555, or if you have investment income of more than $3,450. In addition, you cannot be the qualifying child of another person.

TaxAct calculates your earned income credit based on your wages and other earned income, your adjusted gross income, and the number of qualified children you have living with you.

A common mistake is to forgo claiming a qualifying child for the earned income credit because you have agreed to let the noncustodial parent claim the dependency exemption for that child. The dependency exemption and a qualifying child for the earned income credit are two separate issues. Only the parent with whom the child lives the longest can claim a child for the earned income credit. If the time is equal, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income takes the credit.

You may still qualify for the earned income credit if you do not have a qualifying child. You must be at least age 25, but under age 65. (If you're married, only one of you must meet the age test.) You cannot be the dependent of another person, and you must live in the U.S. more than half the year.

If you may qualify for the credit, TaxAct asks a few questions in the step-by-step interview and does all the calculations for you. If you have a qualifying child, TaxAct calculates the credit on Schedule EIC, Form 1040.


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Upcoming Tax Dates

January 1 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) Details

January 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer Details

January 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2017 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES Details

January 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in 12-2017

January 15 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr./Inauguration Day) Details

January 15 — Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2017 using Form 1040-ES Details

January 31 — All Employers
Give your employees their copies of Form W2 for 2017. If an employee agreed to receive Form W2 electronically, have it posted on a website and notify the employee of the posting.

January 31 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by 01-15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2017 by 01-31. Filing your return and paying any tax due by 01-31 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by 01-31file and pay your tax by 04-15.

January 31 — Payers of gambling winnings
If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W2G.

January 31 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2017. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2017 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2017. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2017 Details

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