Earned Income Credit (EITC or EIC)

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If you earn income and make less than $47,955 in 2016 ($53,505 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:

  • $47,955 ($53,505 if filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children
  • $44,648 ($50,198 if filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children
  • $39,296 ($44,846 if filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child
  • $14,880 ($20,430 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 $3,400. 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

February 1 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2016 by February 1. Filing your return and paying any tax due by February 2 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by February 1, file and pay your tax by April 18.

February 1 — 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.

February 1 — Nonpayroll taxes
File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2016 on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on pensions, annuities, IRAs, gambling winnings, and payments of Indian gaming profits to tribal members. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules.

February 1 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2016. 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 February 10 to file the return.

February 1 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2016 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 February 10 to file the return.

February 1 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. 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 February 10 to file the return.

February 1 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2016. 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 February 10 to file the return.

February 1 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2016 - Details

February 1 — Form 720 taxes
File Form 720 for the fourth quarter of 2016.

February 1 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during December 2016.

February 10 — Nonpayroll taxes
File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2016 on all nonpayroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

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

February 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of January.

February 12 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of January.

February 15 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2016 - Details

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

February 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

February 15 — All employers
Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2016, but did not give you Form W4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 16 — Individuals
If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4, you must file a new Form W-4 by this date to continue your exemption for another year - Details

February 20 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Washington's Birthday) - Details

February 25 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of January.

February 28 — Regular method taxes.
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of February.

February 28 — All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2016.

February 28 — Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2016. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 1.

February 28 — All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2016. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 1.

February 28 — Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

February 28 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during January.

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