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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040-A
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP55b976b4

Lines 38a and 38b—Earned Income Credit (EIC)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e11650

What is the EIC?(p41)

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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e11665

To Take the EIC:(p41)

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/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP34270089

 Step 1   All Filers

1.  If, in 2012:
  3 or more children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $45,060 ($50,270 if married filing jointly)?
  2 children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $41,952 ($47,162 if married filing jointly)?
  1 child lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $36,920 ($42,130 if married filing jointly)?
  No children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $13,980 ($19,190 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 to the left of the entry space for line 38a.
3.  Is your filing status married filing separately?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Continue...
4.  Were you or your spouse a nonresident alien for any part of 2012?
Yes.  See Nonresident aliens, later, under Definitions and Special Rules.
No.  Go to Step 2.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP243acf7a

 Step 2   Investment Income

1.  Add the amounts from  Form 1040A:
 Line 8a  
 Line 8b+ 
 Line 9a+ 
 Line 10+ 
     
Investment Income=  
     
2.  Is your investment income more than $3,200?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 3.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP2a169838

 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 2012 and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2012, 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 2012 or is filing a joint return for 2012 only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 596 for examples)
and
Who lived with you in the United States for more than half
of 2012.
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 2012, 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 2012. If at least one qualifying child has a valid SSN (or was born or died in 2012), 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 2012?
Yes.  Skip question 3 and Step 4; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
3.  Could you be a qualifying child of another person for 2012? (Check No if the other person is not required to file, and is not filing, a 2012 tax return or is filing a 2012 return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 596 for examples).)
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 38a.
No.  Skip Step 4; go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP5cf28ecf

 Step 4   Filers Without a Qualifying Child

1.  Is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $13,980 ($19,190 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 2012? (Check Yes if you or your spouse if filing a joint return, were born after December 31, 1947, and before January 2, 1988.) If your spouse died in 2012, 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 2012? 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 to the left of the entry space for line 38a.
4.  Are you filing a joint return for 2012?
Yes.  Skip questions 5 and 6; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
5.   Could you be a qualifying child of another person for 2012? (Check No if the other person is not required to file, and is not filing, a 2012 tax return or is filing a 2012 return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 596 for examples).)
Yes. Stop.   Yes. You cannot take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 38a.
No.  Continue...
6.  Can you be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2012 tax return?
Yes. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP718728a3

 Step 5   Earned Income

1.  Figure earned income:
 Form 1040A, 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 to the left of the entry space for Form 1040A, 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 to the left of the entry space for Form 1040A, 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 1040A, line 38b. 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
  
2.  If you have:
  3 or more qualifying children, is your earned income less than $45,060 ($50,270 if married filing jointly)?
  2 qualifying children, is your earned income less than $41,952 ($47,162 if married filing jointly)?
  1 qualifying child, is your earned income less than $36,920 ($42,130 if married filing jointly)?
  No qualifying children, is your earned income less than $13,980 ($19,190 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to Step 6.
No. Stop.  You cannot take the credit.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#TXMP63d909f2

 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 the Earned Income Credit Worksheet.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12418

Definitions and Special Rules(p43)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12424
Adopted child.(p43)
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12441
Combat pay, nontaxable.(p43)
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12467
Credit figured by the IRS.(p43)
rule
To have the IRS figure your EIC:
  1. Enter EIC to the left of the entry space for Form 1040A, line 38a.
  2. Be sure you enter the nontaxable combat pay you elect to include in earned income on Form 1040A, line 38b. 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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12502
Exception to time lived with you.(p43)
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 more than half of 2012 if the child was born or died in 2012 and your home was this child's home for more than half the time he or she was alive in 2012.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12518
Form 8862, who must file.(p43)
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12551
Foster child.(p44)
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12561
Married child.(p44)
rule
A child who was married at the end of 2012 is a qualifying child only if (a) you can claim him or her as your dependent on Form 1040A, line 6c, or (b) you could have claimed him or her as your dependent except for the special rule under Children of divorced or separated parents in the instructions for line 6c.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12573
Members of the military.(p44)
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12582
Nonresident aliens.(p44)
rule
If your filing status is married filing jointly, go to Step 2. Otherwise, stop; you cannot take the EIC. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 38a.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12597
Permanently and totally disabled.(p44)
rule
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2012, 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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12607
Qualifying child of more than one person.(p44)
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 33 and 39).
  3. Head of household filing status (line 4).
  4. Credit for child and dependent care expenses (line 29).
  5. Exclusion for dependent care benefits (Form 2441, Part III).
  6. Earned income credit (lines 38a and 38b).
No other person can take any of the six tax benefits just listed 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.(p44)

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 the 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 previously listed for which you otherwise qualify. Your mother cannot claim any of those six tax benefits 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 to the left of the entry space for line 38a. Otherwise, go to Step 3, question 1.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12706
Social security number (SSN).(p44)
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 allow the recipient of the SSN to apply for or receive a federally funded benefit. However, if Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization is printed on your social security card, your SSN is valid for EIC purposes only as long as the DHS authorization is still valid.
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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12728
Student.(p44)
rule
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2012 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/i1040a-016.htm#en_us_publink_12088ud0e12741
Welfare benefits, effect of credit on.(p44)
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.