Understanding the Earned Income Credit: Eligibility Requirements and Income Limits for 2021

The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a significant tax credit designed to supplement the earnings of low-to-moderate income working individuals and families. This credit can substantially reduce your tax liability or even result in a tax refund. Understanding the eligibility criteria and income limits for the EIC is crucial to determine if you qualify for this valuable tax break.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the EIC, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must have earned income from working, such as wages, salaries, tips, or self-employment income.
  • You must meet the residency requirements, which include being a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or a non-resident alien who meets specific criteria.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
  • You must have a valid Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Income Limits

The maximum income you can earn and still qualify for the EIC varies depending on your filing status and the number of qualifying children you have. The following table outlines the income limits for the 2021 tax year:

Filing Status Maximum AGI with Zero Qualifying Children Maximum AGI with One Qualifying Child Maximum AGI with Two Qualifying Children Maximum AGI with Three or More Qualifying Children
Single, Head of Household, Widowed, or Married Filing Separately $21,430 $42,158 $47,915 $51,464
Married Filing Jointly $27,380 $48,108 $53,865 $57,414

Qualifying Children

To claim the maximum EIC, you must have qualifying children. A qualifying child is defined as:

  • Your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of these.
  • Your brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of these, provided they lived with you for more than half the year.
  • A child who was placed with you by an authorized placement agency or foster care system.

The child must meet the following requirements:

  • Age: Under 19 years old at the end of the year (or under 24 if a full-time student), or any age if permanently and totally disabled.
  • Residency: Lived with you in the United States for more than half the year.
  • Relationship: Must be your child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, step-sibling, or a descendant of any of these.
  • Support: Must have provided more than half of the child’s support for the year.

Calculating Your EIC

The amount of EIC you receive depends on your income, filing status, and the number of qualifying children you have. You can use the EIC Assistant tool on the IRS website to estimate your EIC.

How to Claim the EIC

To claim the EIC, you must file a tax return and include Form 1040, Schedule EIC. You can file your taxes online, by mail, or through a tax preparer.

The Earned Income Credit is a valuable tax credit that can significantly reduce your tax liability or result in a refund. By understanding the eligibility requirements and income limits, you can determine if you qualify for this tax break. If you meet the criteria, be sure to claim the EIC on your tax return to maximize your tax savings.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Explained


What is the income threshold for Earned Income Credit 2021?

To qualify for CalEITC you must meet all of the following requirements during the tax year: You’re at least 18 years old or have a qualifying child. Have earned income of at least $1.00 and not more that $30,950.

What disqualifies you from earned income credit?

If you received more than $11,000 in investment income or income from rentals, royalties, or stock and other asset sales during 2023, you can’t qualify for the EIC. This amount increases to $11,600 in 2024. You have to be 25 or older but under 65 to qualify for the EIC.

How much income is too much for earned income credit?

Number of Qualifying Children
For Single/Head of Household or Qualifying Surviving Spouse, or Married Filing Separately*, Income Must be Less Than
No Child
One Child
Two Children
Three or More Children

Who does not qualify for the 2021 Earned Income Tax Credit?

There are two exceptions: Workers who are 19-23 and were a full- or part-time student for more than 5 months in 2021 do not qualify. Qualified homeless youth or former foster youth who are at least 18 years old and work are eligible even if they are a student.

When can I use my 2019 or 2021 earned income?

For tax year 2020, the CAA allows taxpayers to use their 2019 earned income if it was higher than their 2020 earned income in calculating the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) as well as the Earned Income Credit (EIC). For 2021, you are allowed to use your 2019 or 2021 earned income based on whichever one gives you the highest credit.

Are you eligible for the earned income tax credit 2023?

If you don’t have eligible dependents, you can get a maximum credit of $600, up from $560 for tax year 2022. The IRS estimates that 20% of taxpayers who qualify for the EITC never claim it. Here’s how to learn if you’re eligible to take the credit on your 2023 tax return, due April 15, 2024. What Is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

What income qualifies for EITC?

Examples of earned income include wages, tips, and self-employment income. Unemployment income, alimony, child support and interest income aren’t considered earned income. 7. If You Earned Investment Income, It Didn’t Exceed an IRS Threshold To qualify for the EITC, your investment income cannot have exceeded $11,000 in 2023.

What income qualifies for the earned income tax credit?

Examples of earned income include wages, tip income and net self-employment income. Income that does not qualify for the credit includes interest and dividends, pensions or annuities, Social Security, unemployment benefits, alimony and child support. How Does the Earned Income Tax Credit Work?

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