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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040-A
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP259f324e

Lines 42a and 42b—Earned Income Credit (EIC)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e11650

What is the EIC?(p43)

rule
The EIC is a credit for certain people who work. The credit may give you a refund even if you don't owe any tax or didn't have any tax withheld.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e11665

To Take the EIC:(p43)

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 aren't eligible and it is determined that your error is due to reckless or intentional disregard of the EIC rules, you won't 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 won't 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-015.htm#TXMP179befd0

 Step 1   All Filers

1.  If, in 2015:
  3 or more children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly)?
  2 children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $44,454 ($49,974 if married filing jointly)?
  1 child lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $39,131 ($44,651 if married filing jointly)?
  No children lived with you, is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't take the credit.
2.  Do you, and your spouse if filing a joint return, have a social security number that allows you to work and is valid for EIC purposes (explained later under Definitions and Special Rules)?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a.
3.  Is your filing status married filing separately?
Yes. Stop.  You can't take the credit.
No.  Continue...
4.  Were you or your spouse a nonresident alien for any part of 2015?
Yes.  See Nonresident aliens, later, under Definitions and Special Rules.
No.  Go to Step 2.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP5e1dc42e

 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 $3,400?
Yes. Stop.  You can't take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 3.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP42fe23fe

 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 2015 and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2015, 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 isn't filing a joint return for 2015 or is filing a joint return for 2015 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 2015.
cautionYou can't take the credit for a child who didn't live with you for more than half the year, even if you paid most of the child's living expenses. The IRS may ask you for documents to show you lived with each qualifying child. Documents you might want to keep for this purpose include school and child care records and other records that show your child's address.
taxtipIf the child didn't live with you for more than half of 2015 because of a temporary absence, birth, death, or kidnapping, see Exception to time lived with you,
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 2015, 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 2015. If at least one qualifying child has a valid SSN (or was born or died in 2015), go to question 2. Otherwise, you can't take the credit.
No.  Skip questions 2 and 3; go to Step 4.
2.  Are you filing a joint return for 2015?
Yes.  Skip question 3 and Step 4; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
3.  Could you be a qualifying child of another person for 2015? (Check No if the other person isn't required to file, and isn't filing, a 2015 tax return or is filing a 2015 return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 596 for examples).)
Yes. Stop.  You can't take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a.
No.  Skip Step 4; go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP32f5fcab

 Step 4   Filers Without a Qualifying Child

1.  Is the amount on Form 1040A, line 22, less than $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't 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 2015? (Check Yes if you or your spouse if filing a joint return, were born after December 31, 1950, and before January 2, 1991.) If your spouse died in 2015 (or if you are preparing a return for someone who died in 2015), see Pub. 596 before you answer.
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't 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 2015? Members of the military stationed outside the United States, see Members of the military, later, before you answer.
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a.
4.  Are you filing a joint return for 2015?
Yes.  Skip questions 5 and 6; go to Step 5.
No.  Continue...
5.   Could you be a qualifying child of another person for 2015? (Check No if the other person isn't required to file, and isn't filing, a 2015 tax return or is filing a 2015 return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 596 for examples).)
Yes. Stop.  You can't take the credit. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a.
No.  Continue...
6.  Can you be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2015 tax return?
Yes. Stop.  You can't take the credit.
No.  Go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP7eac27df

 Step 5   Earned Income


1.  Complete the following worksheet.
Earned Income Worksheet
1.Enter the amount from Form 1040A, line 71. 
2.Enter any amount included on Form 1040A, line 7, that is a taxable scholarship or fellowship grant not reported on a Form W-2 2. 
3.Enter any amount included on Form 1040A, line 7, that you received for work performed while an inmate in a penal institution. (Enter "PRI" and the same amount on the dotted line next to Form 1040A, line 7 3. 
4.Enter any amount included on Form 1040A, line 7, that you received as a pension or annuity from a nonqualified deferred compensation plan or a nongovernmental section 457 plan. (Enter "DFC" and the same amount on the dotted line next to 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 4. 
5.Add lines 2, 3, and 45. 
6.Subtract line 5 from line 16. 
7.Enter all your nontaxable combat pay if you elect to include it in earned income. Also enter this amount on Form 1040A, line 42b. See Combat pay, nontaxable, later 7. 
 
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.
   
8.Add lines 6 and 7. This is your earned income8. 
2.  If you have:
  3 or more qualifying children, is your earned income less than $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly)?
  2 qualifying children, is your earned income less than $44,454 ($49,974 if married filing jointly)?
  1 qualifying child, is your earned income less than $39,131 ($44,651 if married filing jointly)?
  No qualifying children, is your earned income less than $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly)?
Yes.  Go to Step 6.
No. Stop.  You can't take the credit.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP7e0b15c4

 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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12418

Definitions and Special Rules(p45)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12424
Adopted child.(p45)
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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12441
Combat pay, nontaxable.(p45)
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. In other words, if one of you makes the election, the other one can also make it but doesn't have to.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12467
Credit figured by the IRS.(p45)
rule
To have the IRS figure your EIC:
  1. Enter EIC to the left of the entry space for Form 1040A, line 42a.
  2. Be sure you enter the nontaxable combat pay you elect to include in earned income on Form 1040A, line 42b. See Combat Pay, nontaxable, earlier.
  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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12502
Exception to time lived with you.(p45)
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 and Members of the military, later. A child is considered to have lived with you for more than half of 2015 if the child was born or died in 2015 and your home was this child's home for more than half the time he or she was alive in 2015.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12518
Form 8862, who must file.(p45)
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 don't file Form 8862 if either of the following applies.
Also, don't file Form 8862 or take the credit for the:
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12551
Foster child.(p45)
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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12561
Married child.(p46)
rule
A child who was married at the end of 2015 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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12573
Members of the military.(p46)
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 don't serve more than 90 days.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12582
Nonresident aliens.(p46)
rule
If your filing status is married filing jointly, go to Step 2. Otherwise, stop; you can't take the EIC. Enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12597
Permanently and totally disabled.(p46)
rule
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2015, the person couldn't 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-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12607
Qualifying child of more than one person.(p46)
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 35 and 43).
  3. Head of household filing status (line 4).
  4. Credit for child and dependent care expenses (line 31).
  5. Exclusion for dependent care benefits (Form 2441, Part III).
  6. Earned income credit (lines 42a and 42b).
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.(p46)

Your daughter meets the conditions to be a qualifying child for both you and your mother. Your daughter doesn't meet the conditions to be the qualifying child of any other person, including her other parent. Under the rules just described, 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 can't 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 don't 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 won't be taking the EIC with a qualifying child, enter No to the left of the entry space for line 42a. Otherwise, go to Step 3, question 1.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12706
Social security number (SSN).(p46)
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 won't have an SSN by the date your return is due, see What If You Can't File on Time.
If you didn't have an SSN by the due date of your 2015 return (including extensions), you can't claim the EIC on either your original or an amended 2015 return, even if you later get an SSN. Also, if a child didn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions), you can't count that child as a qualifying child in figuring the EIC on either your original or an amended 2015 return, even if that child later gets an SSN.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12728
Student.(p46)
rule
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2015 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 doesn't include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12741
Welfare benefits, effect of credit on.(p46)
rule
Any refund you receive as a result of taking the EIC can't 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 can't 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.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#en_us_publink12088ud0e12753
taxmap/instr/i1040a-015.htm#TXMP3de502b8
Earned Income Credit (EIC) Worksheet - Lines 42a and 42b Text DescriptionEarned Income Credit (EIC) Worksheet - Lines 42a and 42b