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IRS.gov Website
Publication 596
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167288

Chapter 3
Rules If You Do Not Have a Qualifying Child

Use this chapter if you do not have a qualifying child and have met all the rules in chapter 1. This chapter discusses Rules 11 through 14. You must meet all four of those rules, in addition to the rules in chapters 1 and 4, to qualify for the earned income credit without a qualifying child.

You can file Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ to claim the EIC without a qualifying child. If you meet all the rules in chapter 1 and this chapter, read chapter 4 to find out what to do next.

taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167290

If you have a qualifying child.(p23)

rule
If you meet Rule 8, you have a qualifying child. If you meet Rule 8 and do not claim the EIC with a qualifying child, you cannot claim the EIC without a qualifying child.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167291

Rule 11. You Must Be at Least Age 25 but Under Age 65(p23)

rule
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP774c5ac1
Rule 11 (p23)
 Age
You must be at least age 25 but under age 65 at the end of 2012. If you are married filing a joint return, either you or your spouse must be at least age 25 but under age 65 at the end of 2012. It does not matter which spouse meets the age test, as long as one of the spouses does.
You meet the age test if you were born after December 31, 1947, and before January 2, 1988. If you are married filing a joint return, you meet the age test if either you or your spouse was born after December 31, 1947, and before January 2, 1988.
If neither you nor your spouse meets the age test, you cannot claim the EIC. Put "No" next to line 64a (Form 1040), line 38a (Form 1040A), or line 8a (Form 1040EZ).
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000210196

Death of spouse.(p23)

rule
If you are filing a joint return with your spouse who died in 2012, you meet the age test if your spouse was at least age 25 but under age 65 at the time of death.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink100023399

Example 1.(p23)

taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP3752a7cf
Examples 1, 2, and 3:(p23)
 Age
You are age 28 and unmarried. You meet the age test.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink100023400

Example 2.(p23)

You are married and filing a joint return. You are age 23 and your spouse is age 27. You meet the age test because your spouse is at least age 25 but under age 65.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000239216

Example 3.(p23)

You are married and filing a joint return with your spouse who died in August 2012. You are age 67. Your spouse would have been age 65 in November 2012. Because your spouse was under age 65 when she died, you meet the age test.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167292

Rule 12. You Cannot Be the Dependent of Another Person(p23)

rule
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP11baf485
Rule 12(p23)
 Dependent of another person
If you are not filing a joint return, you meet this rule if:
If you are filing a joint return, you meet this rule if:
If you are not sure whether someone else can claim you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) as a dependent, get Publication 501 and read the rules for claiming a dependent.
If someone else can claim you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) as a dependent on his or her return, but does not, you still cannot claim the credit.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink100023402

Example 1.(p24)

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Examples:(p24)
 Dependent of another person
In 2012, you were age 25, single, and living at home with your parents. You worked and were not a student. You earned $7,500. Your parents cannot claim you as a dependent. When you file your return, you claim an exemption for yourself by not checking the "You" box on line 5 of your Form 1040EZ and by entering $9,750 on that line. You meet this rule. You can claim the EIC if you meet all the other requirements.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink100023403

Example 2.(p24)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you earned $2,000. Your parents can claim you as a dependent but decide not to. You do not meet this rule. You cannot claim the credit because your parents could have claimed you as a dependent.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000255369

Joint returns.(p24)

rule
You generally cannot be claimed as a dependent by another person if you are married and file a joint return.
However, another person may be able to claim you as a dependent if you and your spouse file a joint return merely to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid. But neither you nor your spouse can be claimed as a dependent by another person if you claim the EIC on your joint return.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000262471

Example 1.(p24)

You are 26 years old. You and your wife live with your parents and had $800 of wages from part-time jobs and no other income. Neither you nor your wife is required to file a tax return. You do not have a child. Taxes were taken out of your pay so you file a joint return only to get a refund of the withheld taxes. Your parents are not disqualified from claiming an exemption for you just because you filed a joint return. They can claim exemptions for you and your wife if all the other tests to do so are met.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000262469

Example 2.(p24)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except no taxes were taken out of your pay. Also, you and your wife are not required to file a tax return, but you file a joint return to claim an EIC of $63 and get a refund of that amount. Because claiming the EIC is your reason for filing the return, you are not filing it only to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid. Your parents cannot claim an exemption for either you or your wife.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167293

Rule 13. You Cannot Be a Qualifying Child of Another Taxpayer(p24)

rule
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP66bdc413
Rule 13 (p24)
 Qualifying child of another taxpayer
You are a qualifying child of another taxpayer (your parent, guardian, foster parent, etc.) if all of the following statements are true.
  1. You are that person's son, daughter, stepchild, grandchild, or foster child. Or, you are that person's brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister (or the child or grandchild of that person's brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister).
  2. You were:
    1. Under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than that person (or that person's spouse, if the person files jointly),
    2. Under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than that person (or that person's spouse, if the person files jointly), or
    3. Permanently and totally disabled, regardless of age.
  3. You lived with that person in the United States for more than half of the year.
  4. You are not filing a joint return for the year (or are filing a joint return only as a claim for refund).
For more details about the tests to be a qualifying child, see Rule 8.
If you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) are a qualifying child of another taxpayer, you cannot claim the EIC. This is true even if the person for whom you are a qualifying child does not claim the EIC or meet all of the rules to claim the EIC. Put "No" next to line 64a (Form 1040), line 38a (Form 1040A), or line 8a (Form 1040EZ).
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink100023405

Example.(p25)

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Example:(p25)
 Qualifying child of parent
You lived with your mother all year. You are age 26, unmarried, and permanently and totally disabled. Your only income was from a community center where you went three days a week to answer telephones. You earned $5,000 for the year and provided more than half of your own support. Because you meet the relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests, you are a qualifying child of your mother for the EIC. She can claim the EIC if she meets all the other requirements. Because you are a qualifying child of your mother, you cannot claim the EIC. This is so even if your mother cannot or does not claim the EIC.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000266691

Joint returns.(p25)

rule
You generally cannot be a qualifying child of another taxpayer if you are married and file a joint return.
However, you may be a qualifying child of another taxpayer if you and your spouse file a joint return merely to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid. But neither you nor your spouse can be a qualifying child of another taxpayer if you claim the EIC on your joint return.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000266698

Child of person not required to file a return.(p25)

rule
You are not the qualifying child of another taxpayer (and so may qualify to claim the EIC) if your parent (or other person for whom you meet the relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests) is not required to file an income tax return and either:
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMRbbff18d1

Example 1.(p25)

taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP0df26f0b
Example 1:(p25)
 Return not required
You lived all year with your father. You are 27 years old, unmarried, permanently and totally disabled, and earned $13,000. You have no other income, no children, and provided more than half of your own support. Your father had no gross income, is not required to file a 2012 tax return, and does not file a 2012 tax return. As a result, you are not your father's qualifying child. You can claim the EIC if you meet all the other requirements to do so.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMR748f62d1

Example 2.(p25)

taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP75243494
Example 2:(p25)
 Return filed to claim refund
The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your father had wages of $1,500 and had income tax withheld from his wages. He files a return only to get a refund of the income tax withheld and does not claim the EIC or any other tax credits or deductions. As a result, you are not your father's qualifying child. You can claim the EIC if you meet all the other requirements to do so.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMRb08b43c8

Example 3.(p25)

taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP4e4f745c
Example 3:(p25)
 EIC claimed
The facts are the same as in Example 2 except your father claimed the EIC on his return. Since he filed the return to get the EIC, he is not filing it only to get a refund of income tax withheld. As a result, you are your father's qualifying child. You cannot claim the EIC.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167295

Rule 14. You Must Have Lived in the United States More Than Half of the Year(p25)

rule
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#TXMP0726ae4e
Rule 14 (p25)
 Main home in United States
Your home (and your spouse's, if filing a joint return) must have been in the United States for more than half the year.
If it was not, put "No" next to line 64a (Form 1040), line 38a (Form 1040A), or line 8a (Form 1040EZ).
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167296

United States.(p25)

rule
This means the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It does not include Puerto Rico or U.S. possessions such as Guam.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167297

Homeless shelter.(p26)

rule
Your home can be any location where you regularly live. You do not need a traditional home. If you lived in one or more homeless shelters in the United States for more than half the year, you meet this rule.
taxmap/wpubs/p596-008.htm#en_us_publink1000167298

Military personnel stationed outside the United States.(p26)

rule
U.S. military personnel stationed outside the United States on extended active duty (defined in chapter 2) are considered to live in the United States during that duty period for purposes of the EIC.