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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP554c519f

Lines 64a and 64b—
Earned Income Credit (EIC)(p45)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP15b1f2d2

What Is the EIC?(p45)

rule
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.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP17d66406

To Take the EIC:(p45)

rule
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, later. You may also have to pay penalties.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP74426d4a

 Step 1   All Filers

1.   If, in 2011:
  3 or more children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040, line 38, less than $43,998 ($49,078 if married filing jointly)?
  2 children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040, line 38, less than $40,964 ($46,044 if married filing  jointly)?
   1 child lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040, line 38, less than $36,052 ($41,132 if married filing jointly)?
  No children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040, line 38, less than $13,660 ($18,740 if married filing  jointly)?
Yes.  Continue...
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 (explained later under Definitions and Special Rules)?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No on the dotted line next to line 64a.
3.  Is your filing status married filing separately?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Continue...
4.  Are you filing Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (relating to foreign earned income)?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Continue...
5.  Were you or your spouse a nonresident alien for any part of 2011?
Yes.  See Nonresident aliens, later, under Definitions and Special Rules.
No.  Go to Step 2.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP0ed514bb

 Step 2   Investment Income

1.  Add the amounts from  Form 1040:
 Line 8a  
 Line 8b+ 
 Line 9a+ 
 Line 13*+ 
     
Investment Income =  
*If line 13 is a loss, enter -0-.   
2.  Is your investment income more than $3,150?
Yes.  Continue...
No.  Skip question 3; go to question 4.
3.  Are you filing Form 4797 (relating to sales of business property)?
Yes.  See Form 4797 filers, later, under Definitions and Special Rules.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
4.  Do any of the following apply for 2011?
  You are filing Schedule E.
  You are reporting income from the rental of personal property not used in a trade or business.
  You are reporting income on Form 1040, line 21, from Form 8814 (relating to election to report child's interest and dividends).
Yes.  You must use Worksheet 1 in Pub. 596 to see if you can take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 3.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP45938d6e

 Step 3   Qualifying Child

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 2011 and younger than you
(or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2011, a student (defined later), and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Any age and permanently and totally disabled (defined later)
and
Who is not filing a joint return for 2011
or is filing a joint return for 2011 only as a claim for refund (defined later)
and
Who lived with you in the United States for more than half of 2011.
If the child did not live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you, later.
caution If the child meets the conditions to be a qualifying child of any other person (other than your spouse if filing a joint return) for 2011, see Qualifying child of more than one person, later. If the child was married, see Married child, later.
 
1.  Do you have at least one child who meets the conditions to be your qualifying child?
Yes.  The child must have a valid social security number (SSN) as defined later, unless the child was born and died in 2011. If at least one qualifying child has a valid SSN (or was born or died in 2011), go to question 2. Otherwise, you cannot take the credit.
No.  Skip questions 2 and 3; go to Step 4.
2.  Are you filing a joint return for 2011?
Yes.  Skip question 3 and Step 4; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
3.  Could you be a qualifying child of another person in 2011? (Check No if the other person is not required to file, and is not filing, a 2011 tax return or is filing a 2011 return only as a claim for refund (defined in the instructions for line 6c).)
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No on the dotted line next to line 64a.
No.  Skip Step 4; go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP76247385

 Step 4   Filers Without a Qualifying Child

1.  Is the amount on Form 1040, line 38, less than $13,660 ($18,740 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
2.  Were you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, at least age 25 but under age 65 at the end of 2011? (Check Yes if you were born after December 31, 1946, and before January 2, 1987.) If your spouse died in 2011, see Pub. 596 before you answer.
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
3.  Was your main home, and your spouse's if filing a joint return, in the United States for more than half of 2011? Members of the military stationed outside the United States, see Members of the military, later, before you answer.
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No on the dotted line next to line 64a.
4.  Are you filing a joint return for 2011?
Yes.  Skip questions 5 and 6; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
5.   Could you be a qualifying child of another person in 2011?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No on  the dotted line next to line 64a.
No.  Continue...
6.  Can you be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2011 tax return?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP78bb0181

 Step 5   Earned Income

1.  Are you filing Schedule SE because you were a member of the clergy or you had church employee income of $108.28 or more?
Yes.  See Clergy or Church employees, whichever applies.
No.  Continue...
2.  Figure earned income:
 Form 1040, line 7   
 Subtract, if included on line 7, any:    
Taxable scholarship or fellowship grant not reported on a Form W-2.    
Amount received for work performed while an inmate in a penal institution (enter "PRI" and the amount subtracted on the dotted line next to Form 1040,
line 7).
    
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 on the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 7). This amount may be shown in box 11 of Form W-2. 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

 
 Add all of your nontaxable combat pay if you elect to include it in earned income. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 64b. See Combat pay, nontaxable later.  + 
 
caution Electing 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
3.  Were you self-employed at any time in 2011, or are you filing Schedule SE because you were a member of the clergy or you had church employee income, or are you filing Schedule C or C-EZ as a statutory employee?
Yes.  Skip question 4 and Step 6; go to Worksheet B.
No.  Continue...
4.  If you have:
  3 or more qualifying children, is your earned income less than $43,998 ($49,078 if married filing jointly)?
  2 qualifying children, is your earned income less than $40,964 ($46,044 if married filing jointly)?
  1 qualifying child, is your earned income less than $36,052 ($41,132 if married filing jointly)?
  No qualifying children, is your earned income less than $13,660 ($18,740 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to Step 6.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP340a17f7

 Step 6   How To Figure the Credit

1.  Do you want the IRS to figure the credit for you?
Yes.   See Credit figured by the IRS, later.
No.  Go to Worksheet A.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP2142e96b

Definitions and Special Rules(p47)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP67d0c663
Adopted child.(p47)
rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP10119dba
Church employees.(p47)
rule
Determine how much of the amount on Form 1040, line 7, was also reported on Schedule SE, Section B, line 5a. Subtract that amount from the amount on Form 1040, line 7, and enter the result in the first space of Step 5, line 2. Be sure to answer Yes to question 3 in Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP6239f0d3
Claim for refund.(p47)
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 EIC or any other similar refundable credit is claimed on it.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP44f3e461
Clergy.(p47)
rule
The following instructions apply to ministers, members of religious orders who have not taken a vow of poverty, and Christian Science practitioners. If you are filing Schedule SE and the amount on line 2 of that schedule includes an amount that was also reported on Form 1040, line 7:
  1. Enter Clergy on the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 64a.
  2. Determine how much of the amount on Form 1040, line 7, was also reported on Schedule SE, Section A, line 2, or Section B, line 2.
  3. Subtract that amount from the amount on Form 1040,
    line 7. Enter the result in the first space of Step 5, line 2.
  4. Be sure to answer Yes to question 3 in Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP65a9f0c7
Combat pay, nontaxable.(p47)
rule
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 can each make your own election.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP01e28579
Credit figured by the IRS.(p47)
rule
To have the IRS figure your EIC:
  1. Enter EIC on the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 64a.
  2. Be sure you enter the nontaxable combat pay you elect to include in earned income on Form 1040, line 64b. See Combat pay, nontaxable, above.
  3. If you have a qualifying child, complete and attach Schedule EIC. If your EIC for a year after 1996 was reduced or disallowed, see Form 8862, who must file, later.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP3421bcf6
Exception to time lived with you.(p47)
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 the child lived with you. Also see Kidnapped child in the instructions for line 6c or Members of the military, later. A child is considered to have lived with you for all of 2011 if the child was born or died in 2011 and your home was this child's home for the entire time he or she was alive in 2011.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP56f083c5
Form 4797 filers.(p47)
rule
If the amount on Form 1040, line 13, includes an amount from Form 4797, you must use Worksheet 1 in Pub. 596 to see if you can take the EIC. Otherwise, stop; you cannot take the EIC.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP45e1494f
Form 8862, who must file.(p48)
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.   Also, do not file Form 8862 or take the credit for the: 
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP7ee73f2d
Foster child.(p48)
rule
A foster child is any child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction. For more details on authorized placement agencies, see Pub. 596.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP232baa49
Married child.(p48)
rule
A child who was married at the end of 2011 is a qualifying child only if (a) you can claim him or her as your dependent on Form 1040, line 6c, or (b) you could have claimed him or her as your dependent except for the special rule for Children of divorced or separated parents in the instructions for line 6c.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP6358ba04
Members of the military.(p48)
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.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP121e8820
Nonresident aliens.(p48)
rule
If your filing status is married filing jointly, go to Step 2. Otherwise, stop; you cannot take the EIC. Enter No on the dotted line next to line 64a.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP1c4b97e7
Permanently and totally disabled.(p48)
rule
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2011, 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 (a) has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year, or (b) can be expected to lead to death.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP65622def
Qualifying child of more than one person.(p48)
rule
Even if a child meets the conditions to be the qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can claim the child as a qualifying child for all of the following tax benefits, unless the special rule for Children of divorced or separated parents in the instructions for line 6c applies.
  1. Dependency exemption (line 6c).
  2. Child tax credits (lines 51 and 65).
  3. Head of household filing status (line 4).
  4. Credit for child and dependent care expenses (line 48).
  5. Exclusion for dependent care benefits (Form 2441, Part III).
  6. Earned income credit (lines 64a and 64b).
No other person can take any of the six tax benefits listed above unless he or she has a different qualifying child. If you and any other person can claim the child as a qualifying child, the following rules apply.

Example.(p48)

Your daughter meets the conditions to be a qualifying child for both you and your mother. Your daughter does not meet the conditions to be a qualifying child of any other person, including her other parent. Under the rules above, you can claim your daughter as a qualifying child for all of the six tax benefits listed here for which you otherwise qualify. Your mother cannot claim any of the six tax benefits listed here unless she has a different qualifying child. However, if your mother's AGI is higher than yours and you do not claim your daughter as a qualifying child, your daughter is the qualifying child of your mother.
For more details and examples, see Pub. 596.
If you will not be taking the EIC with a qualifying child, enter No on the dotted line next to line 64a. Otherwise, go to Step 3, question 1.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP44758071
Social security number (SSN).(p48)
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 Social Security Number (SSN) near the beginning of these instructions. If you will not have an SSN by the date your return is due, see What if You Cannot File on Time?
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP654c41e7
Student.(p48)
rule
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2011 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 school offering courses only through the Internet.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-014.htm#TXMP3949b3a6
Welfare benefits, effect of credit on.(p48)
rule
Any refund you receive as a result of taking the EIC cannot be counted as income when determining if you or anyone else is eligible for benefits or assistance, or how much you or anyone else can receive, under any federal program or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds. These programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). In addition, when determining eligibility, the refund cannot be counted as a resource for at least 12 months after you receive it. Check with your local benefit coordinator to find out if your refund will affect your benefits.