Claiming Your EITC

If you qualify, you will claim your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when you file your federal tax return. If you don’t have any qualifying children, you can use IRS Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. If you have a qualifying child, use Form 1040 or 1040A. Be sure to attach a Schedule EIC.

To calculate the value of your EITC, you can use the Earned Income Credit Worksheet in your 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ instruction booklet. Or you can ask the IRS to calculate it for you by noting an “EIC” on the Earned Income Credit line on your tax return.

To figure out whether or not you are eligible for an EITC and what its value might be, use the IRS EITC Assistant. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Tax Credit Estimator can also help you figure out how much your EITC might be.

Tax Preparation Tips for Claiming the EITC

Keep all your W-2 forms and keep a record of all those you have worked for during the year. This will make things simpler when it comes time to file your taxes.

Be sure to file your taxes, even if your income is lower than the amount at which you are legally required to file. You might be eligible for an EITC or some other tax credit that you can’t get without filing. Many families with children who qualify for an EITC may also be eligible for a Child Tax Credit (CTC).

Get free help with filing your taxes

If you are on a limited income, do not pay someone to do your taxes. You may be able to get free help from a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center to file. With VITA, certified volunteers will help prepare your taxes and they will make sure you get special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. In addition to free help to prepare your tax return, most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing).

VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To find a local VITA center, click here or call 1-800-906-9887.

If you prefer to file your own taxes online, you can also do that for free if you made less than $66,000 last year. To learn more about the IRS Free File program, click here.