The Earned Income Tax Credit, also known as EITC, is a federal tax credit offered to taxpayers who work but earn low wages from their job. The EITC reduces your tax liability and sometimes refunds money as well. You have to meet specific criteria to claim this tax credit, such as income limits and filing status.
The Earned Income credit amount is affected by the amount of children you're claiming on your federal tax return. The lowest credit is $2 if you are an individual with no dependents claimed on your return, while the highest is $5,657 for three or more according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The taxpayer needs to meet several eligibility criteria prior to being able to claim the tax credit. The main requirement is that you have earned income during that tax year, whether through a wage paying job or self-employment. Disability payments before retirement age are also counted as income. You are unable to file as married, filing separately if you want to qualify for the earned income tax credit. You also need to have a valid social security number, be a citizen or resident and cannot be claimed as dependent.
The earned income credit has maximum income limits for those who wish to claim it. The minimum income for claiming an earned income credit is $1, although you obviously do not receive much in the way of a credit at the minimum income. The maximum income credit for individuals filing single ranges from $13,440 for no children up to $43,279 for individuals with three children. The credit cuts off at between $13,460 to $48,362 in annual income for married filing jointly.
The earned income tax credit is claimed on your federal income tax form 1040. The IRS can calculate the total amount of the credit for you, or you can use the Earned Income Credit Worksheet that is included with the 1040 instructions to find out exactly how much of a credit you are entitled to.