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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040-EZ
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Lines 9a and 9b, Earned Income Credit (EIC)(p13)

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What Is the EIC?(p13)

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The EIC is a credit for certain people who work. The credit may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.
Note.(p13) If you have a qualifying child (see this page), you may be able to take the credit, but you must use Schedule EIC and Form 1040A or 1040 to do so. For details, see Pub. 596.

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To Take the EIC:(p13)

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taxtip
For help in determining if you are eligible for the EIC, go to www.irs.gov/eitc and click on EITC Assistant. This service is available in English and Spanish.
caution
If you take the EIC even though you are not eligible and it is determined that your error is due to reckless or intentional disregard of the EIC rules, you will not be allowed to take the credit for 2 years even if you are otherwise eligible to do so. If you fraudulently take the EIC, you will not be allowed to take the credit for 10 years. See Form 8862, who must file, on page 14. You also may have to pay penalties.
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 Step 1   All Filers

1.  Is the amount on Form 1040EZ, line 4, less than $13,460 ($18,470 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to question 2.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
2.  Do you, and your spouse if filing a joint return, have a social security number that allows you to work or is valid for EIC purposes (see page 14)?
Yes.  Go to question 3.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 9a. 
3.  Were you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, at least age 25 but under age 65 at the end of 2010? If your spouse died in 2010, see Pub. 596 before you answer.
Yes.   Go to question 4.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. 
4.  Was your main home, and your spouse's if filing a joint return, in the United States for more than half of 2010? Members of the military stationed outside the United States, see page 14 before you answer.
Yes.   Go to question 5.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 9a.
5.  Look at the qualifying child conditions below. Could you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, be a qualifying child of another person in 2010?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No in the space to the left of line 9a.
No.  Go to question 6.
A qualifying child for the EIC is a child who is your...

Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew).
and
was...
Under age 19 at the end of 2010 and younger than you
(or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2010, a student (see page 14), and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Any age and permanently and totally disabled (see page 14)
and
Who is not filing a joint return for 2010 or is filing a joint return for 2010 only as a claim for refund (defined on page 14)
and
Who lived with you in the United States for more than half of 2010. If the child did not live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you on page 14.
caution Special rules apply if the child was married or also meets the conditions to be a qualifying child of another person (other than your spouse if filing a joint return). For details, use TeleTax topic 601 (see page 26) or see Pub. 596.
 
6.   Are you filing a joint return?
Yes.  Skip question 7; go to Step 2 on page 14.
No.  Go to question 7.
7.  Can you be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2010 tax return?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 2 on page 14.
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 Step 2   Earned Income

1.  Figure earned income:
 Form 1040EZ, line 1   
 a. Subtract, if included in line 1, any:    
Taxable scholarship or fellowship grant not reported on a Form W-2.    
Amount received as a pension or annuity from a nonqualified deferred compensation plan or a nongovernmental section 457 plan (enter "DFC" and the amount subtracted in the space to the left of line 1 on Form 1040EZ). This amount may be shown on your Form W-2 in box 11. If you received such an amount but box 11 is blank, contact your employer for the amount received as a pension or annuity. Right brace



 
Amount received for work performed while an inmate in a penal institution (enter "PRI" in the space to the left of line 1 on Form 1040EZ).    
 b. Add all of your nontaxable combat pay if you elect to include it in earned income. Also enter this amount on Form 1040EZ, line 9b. See Combat pay, nontaxable on this page, and the Caution below. +  
 
cautionElecting to include nontaxable combat pay may increase or decrease your EIC. Figure the credit with and without your nontaxable combat pay before making the election.
    
 Earned Income = box2  
      
2.  Is your earned income less than $13,460 ($18,470 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to Step 3.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
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 Step 3   How To Figure the Credit

1.  Do you want the IRS to figure the credit for you?
Yes.  See Credit figured by the IRS on this page.
No.  Go to the worksheet on page 15.
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Definitions and Special Rules(p14)

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(listed in alphabetical order)
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Claim for refund.(p14)
rule
A claim for refund is a return filed only to get a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid. A return is not a claim for refund if the making work pay credit, earned income credit, or any other similar refundable credit is claimed on it.
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Combat pay, nontaxable.(p14)
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If you were a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in a combat zone, certain pay is excluded from your income. See Combat Zone Exclusion in Pub. 3. You can elect to include this pay in your earned income when figuring the EIC. The amount of your nontaxable combat pay should be shown in box 12 of Form(s) W-2 with code Q. If you are filing a joint return and both you and your spouse received nontaxable combat pay, you each can make your own election.
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pencil

Earned Income Credit (EIC) Worksheet—Lines 9a and 9b

 
1.Enter your earned income from Step 2 on page 141.  
2.Look up the amount on line 1 above in the EIC Table beginning on page 16 to find the credit. Be sure you use the correct column for your filing status (Single or Married filing jointly).   
 Enter the credit here2.
 If line 2 is zero, stop You cannot take the credit. Enter "No" in the space to the left of line 9a.   
3.Enter the amount from Form 1040EZ, line 43.  
4.Are the amounts on lines 3 and 1 the same?    
  box Yes. Skip line 5; enter the amount from line 2 on line 6.    
  box No.Go to line 5.    
5.Is the amount on line 3 less than $7,500 ($12,500 if married filing jointly)?   
  box Yes. Leave line 5 blank; enter the amount from line 2 on line 6.   
  box No.Look up the amount on line 3 in the EIC Table beginning on page 16 to find the credit. Be sure you use the correct column for your filing status (Single or Married filing jointly).   
   Enter the credit here5.
   Look at the amounts on lines 5 and 2. Then, enter the smaller amount on line 6.   
        
6.Earned income credit. Enter this amount on Form 1040EZ, line 9a6. 
caution If your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed, see page 14 to find out if you must file Form 8862 to take the credit for 2010.   
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Credit figured by the IRS.(p14)
rule
To have the IRS figure your EIC:
  1. Enter EIC in the space to the left of line 9a on Form 1040EZ.
  2. Be sure you enter the nontaxable combat pay you elect to include in earned income on Form 1040EZ, line 9b. See Combat pay, nontaxable, earlier.
  3. If your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed, see Form 8862, who must file, below.
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Exception to time lived with you.(p14)
rule
Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived with you. A child is considered to have lived with you for all of 2010 if the child was born or died in 2010 and your home was this child's home for the entire time he or she was alive in 2010. Special rules apply to members of the military (see Members of the military below) or if the child was kidnapped (see Pub. 596).
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Form 8862, who must file.(p14)
rule
You must file Form 8862 if your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed for any reason other than a math or clerical error. But do not file Form 8862 if either of the following applies.
  1. You filed Form 8862 for another year, the EIC was allowed for that year, and your EIC has not been reduced or disallowed again for any reason other than a math or clerical error.
  2. The only reason your EIC was reduced or disallowed in the earlier year was because it was determined that a child listed on Schedule EIC was not your qualifying child.
Also, do not file Form 8862 or take the credit for:
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Members of the military.(p14)
rule
If you were on extended active duty outside the United States, your main home is considered to be in the United States during that duty period. Extended active duty is military duty ordered for an indefinite period or for a period of more than 90 days. Once you begin serving extended active duty, you are considered to be on extended active duty even if you do not serve more than 90 days.
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Permanently and totally disabled.(p14)
rule
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2010, the person could not engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and a doctor has determined that this condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can be expected to lead to death.
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Social security number (SSN).(p14)
rule
For the EIC, a valid SSN is a number issued by the Social Security Administration unless Not Valid for Employment is printed on the social security card and the number was issued solely to apply for or receive a federally funded benefit.
To find out how to get an SSN, see page 9. If you will not have an SSN by the date your return is due, see What if You Cannot File on Time? on page 21.
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Student.(p14)
rule
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2010 was enrolled as a full-time student at a school, or took a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school or a state, county, or local government agency. A school includes a technical, trade, or mechanical school. It does not include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or a school offering courses only through the Internet.
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Welfare benefits, effect of credit on.(p15)
rule
Any refund you receive as a result of taking the EIC will not be used to determine if you are eligible for the following programs or how much you can receive from them.
But if the refund you receive because of the EIC is not spent within a certain period of time, it can count as an asset (or resource) and affect your eligibility.