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IRS.gov Website
Publication 596
taxmap/pubs/p596-001.htm#en_us_publink1000297346

Chapter 1
Rules for Everyone


This chapter discusses Rules 1 through 7. You must meet all seven rules to qualify for the earned income credit. If you do not meet all seven rules, you cannot get the credit and you do not need to read the rest of the publication.
If you meet all seven rules in this chapter, then read either chapter 2 or chapter 3 (whichever applies) for more rules you must meet.
taxmap/pubs/p596-001.htm#en_us_publink1000297442

Rule 1—Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Limits

rule
Your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than:
taxmap/pubs/p596-001.htm#en_us_publink1000297348

Adjusted gross income (AGI).

rule
AGI is the amount on line 4 of Form 1040EZ, line 22 of Form 1040A, or line 38 of Form 1040.
If your AGI is equal to or more than the applicable limit listed above, you cannot claim the EIC. You do not need to read the rest of this publication.
taxmap/pubs/p596-001.htm#en_us_publink1000297349

Example—AGI is more than limit.

Your AGI is $38,550, you are single, and you have one qualifying child. You cannot claim the EIC because your AGI is not less than $38,511. However, if your filing status was married filing jointly, you might be able to claim the EIC because your AGI is less than $43,941.
taxmap/pubs/p596-001.htm#en_us_publink1000297350

Community property.

rule
If you are married, but qualify to file as head of household under special rules for married taxpayers living apart (see Rule 3), and live in a state that has community property laws, your AGI includes that portion of both your and your spouse's wages that you are required to include in gross income. This is different from the community property rules that apply under Rule 7.