2019 – 2020 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Qualification and Income Thresholds

Below are the EITC tables for the past few years. These are adjusted annually in line with inflation and other government mandates. The EITC supplements the wages of low income workers, and especially working mothers, lifting more children out of poverty than any other single federal program. Nearly 25 million tax returns claimed the earned income tax credit according to IRS data.

2019 Earned Income Tax Credit (for Returns Filed in 2020)

Income Qualification ItemNo ChildrenWith 1 ChildWith 2 ChildrenWith 3+ Children
1. Max. 2019 Earned Income Tax Credit Amount$529$3,526$5,828$6,557
2. Earned Income (lower limit) required to get maximum credit $6,800$10,200$14,320$14,320
4. Income (AGI) Maximum When Credit Eligibility Ends (for Single, SS, or Head of Household) $15,570$41,094$46,703$50,162
6. Income (AGI) Maximum When Credit Eligibility Ends (for Married Filing Jointly) $21,370$46,884$52,493$55,952

2018 Earned Income Tax Credit (for Returns Filed in 2019)

Income Qualification ItemNo ChildrenWith 1 ChildWith 2 ChildrenWith 3+ Children
1. Max. 2018 Earned Income Tax Credit Amount$520$3,468$5,728$6,444
2. Earned Income (lower limit) required to get maximum credit $6,800$10,200$14,320$14,320
3. Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$8,510$18,700$18,700$18,700
4. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$15,310$40,402$45,898$49.298
5. Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$14,200$24,400$24,400$24,400
6. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$21,000$46,102$51,598$54,998

How to read the EITC tables: The maximum earned income credit allowed/payable for the given tax year is shown in line 1. To start claiming this credit you must have at least $1 of earned income, with line 2 showing the minimum amount of earned income required to get the maximum earned income tax credit.

The amount of credit you receive or qualify for varies based on income and number of children so will differ from person to person. Earned income includes all the taxable income such as Wages, salaries, and tips, certain disability benefits and self-employment earnings.

The “Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins“ (lines 3 and 5 depending on filing status) and “Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends” (lines 4 and 6 depending on filing status) are the adjusted gross income (AGI) ranges from where the EITC begins to phase out to where it reaches $0, or the income at or above which no credit is allowed.

Or said another way you need to earn between $1 and the amounts in line 4 or 6 (based on filing status) to get at least some of the EIC. If your income is between lines 3 and 4 (single filer) or lines 5 and 6 (married) then you get the FULL EIC for the year.

2017 Earned Income Tax Credit (for Returns Filed in 2018)

Income Qualification ItemNo ChildrenWith 1 ChildWith 2 ChildrenWith 3+ Children
1. Max. 2017 Earned Income Tax Credit Amount$510$3,400$5,616$6,318
2. Earned Income (lower limit) required to get maximum credit $6,670$10,000$14,040$14,040
3. Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$8,340$18,340$18,340$18,340
4. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$15,010$39,617$45,007$48,340
5. Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$13,930$23,930$23,930$23,930
6. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$20,600$45,207$50,597$53,930

2016 Earned Income Tax Credit (For Returns Filed in 2017)

Income Qualification ItemNo ChildrenWith 1 ChildWith 2 ChildrenWith 3+ Children
1. Maximum 2016 Earned Income Tax Credit Amount$506$3,373$5,572$6,269
2. Earned Income (lower limit) required to get maximum credit $6,610$9,920 $13,930 $13,930
3. Phaseout Threshold Amount Begins
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$8,270$18,190 $18,190 $18,190
4. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Single, SS, or Head of Household)
$14,880$39,296$44,648$47,955
5. Threshold Phaseout Amount Begins
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$13,820$23,740$23,740$23,740
6. Phaseout Amount When Credit Ends
(for Married Filing Jointly)
$20,430$44,846$50,198$53,505

Examples on figuring the EITC from the tables above: 

Scenario 1: Sara has an earned income of $1,200 for the year – Sara would be entitled to a partial credit since she her earned income is less than the “Earned Income required to get the maximum credit (lower limit)” per line 2. The minimum amount of earnings to get a partial credit is $1. The amount of credit would vary based on the number of qualifying children.

Scenario 2: Megan has 1 child and an earned income of 14,000 for the year – Megan is entitled to the full EIC credit for a single filer with 2 children since her earned income is above the “Earned Income required to get the maximum credit (lower limit” on line 2) but below the “Starting Threshold Phaseout Amount” on line 3.

Scenario 3:  Joe and Mary have an earned income of $45,000 and 2 children – Joe and Mary would be entitled to a partial EIC credit for a married couple with 2 children since their earned income is above the “Starting Threshold Phaseout Amount (Married Filing Jointly)” on line 5 but below the “Completed Phaseout Amount (Married Filing Jointly)” on line 6.

Scenario 4: Kobe and Lina have earned income of $120,000 for the year and 3 children – They would not be entitled to the credit at all since their earned income is above the “Completed Phaseout Amount (Married Filing Jointly)” on line 6

Scenario 5: Your AGI is $47,000, you are single, and you have two qualifying children. You cannot claim the EITC because your AGI is not less than the 2017 completed (maximum) phase out limit. However, if your filing status was married filing jointly, you would be able to claim some of the EITC because your AGI is less than the $50,597 complete phase out limit for 2017. You would however only cannot get a partial EITC because your income is above the $23,930 threshold phase amount for 2017.

See IRS publication 596 or use online tax providers like TurboTax or H&R Block to get a free estimate of the specific credit amount you would be entitled to.

Claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on your Tax Return

You have to file a tax return with the IRS to claim the EITC, even if you owe no tax or are not required to file. You can get help with figuring the EIC and other qualifying criteria by following  instructions in IRS publication 596 or using online tax filing software which can also help you work through figuring your credit eligibility and determine the amount you would receive.

Based on some reader comments, I also wanted to list some other key criteria in addition to the income qualification levels above, to claim or qualify for the EIC. These are also covered in past year updates provided below.

  • If you are married and claiming the EIC you and your spouse have to submit a joint tax filing, so status cannot be married filing separately. At least one spouse has to have earned income to qualify for the credit
  • The earned income tax credit cannot be claimed if the aggregate amount of certain investment income exceeds $3,450
  • If you live overseas and claim certain foreign earned income and exclusions (via form 2555 services ) you cannot claim the EIC
  • Your child is a qualifying child for the EIC credit if he/she meets these four tests specified by the IRS – Relationship, Age, Residency and Joint Return

____

[2015 Update] See this article for 2015 and 2016 EITC limits

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[2013 Update] As part of the fiscal cliff deal, the expanded Earned Income Tax credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit were extended for another five years to 2017. The EITC supplements the wages of low income workers, and especially working mothers, lifting more children out of poverty than any other single federal program. Over 6 million families are eligible for the EITC. This expanded EITC keeps the phaseout thresholds for married couples at or above existing levels for single filers. For 2013 the income and credit limits reflect a slight increase over 2012 levels as shown in the table below.

2013 EITC limits
2013 EITC limits (source : IRS.gov)

The “earned income amount” (line 1) is the amount of income (minimum limit) at or above which the maximum amount of the earned income credit (line 2) is allowed. The “threshold phaseout amount (lines 3 and 5 depending on filing status) and “completed phaseout amount” (lines 4 and 6 depending on filing status) are the adjusted gross income (AGI) ranges from where the EITC begins to phase out to where it reaches $0, or the income at or above which no credit is allowed. These ranges change depending on the filing status.  Investment income must also be $3,200 or less for 2013 to claim the credit.

2012 EITC income and credit limits are provided in the update below along with examples of how the EITC works.

Child Tax Credit

The child tax credit maximum for each eligible under-age-17 child will remain at $1,000 for 2013 and will help over 10 million lower income families with 18 million children. The fiscal cliff deal also contains provisions to make the 2013 Child Tax Credit available to more working families that previously could not benefit from it by raising income qualification thresholds (which are not indexed to inflation).

For 2012, the child tax credit starts phasing out (reducing) for those above a specified modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). For married taxpayers filing a joint return, the phase-out begins at $110,000. For married taxpayers filing a separate return, it begins at $55,000. For all other taxpayers, the phase-out begins at $75,000. The credit is reduced/phased-out by $50 for each $1,000 of income above the above threshold amounts.

In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax you owe as well as any alternative minimum tax (AMT) you owe. Other qualification details for the credit can be found in this article.

___________

[2012 update] The IRS has officially released 2012 tax details and here are the changes to the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits:

– The 2012 Earned Income Tax credit (EITC) changes are shown in the table below: The “earned income amount” (line 1) is the amount of income (minimum limit) at or above which the maximum amount of the earned income credit (line 2) is allowed. The “threshold phaseout amount (lines 3 and 5 depending on filing status) and “completed phaseout amount” (lines 4 and 6 depending on filing status) are the adjusted gross income (AGI) ranges from where the EITC begins to phase out to where it reaches $0, or the income at or above which no credit is allowed. These ranges change depending on the filing status.

Example on figuring the EITC: Your AGI is $43,000, you are single, and you have two qualifying children. You cannot claim the EITC because your AGI is not less than the 2012 completed (maximum) phase out limit of $41,952. However, if your filing status was married filing jointly, you would be able to claim some of the EITC because your AGI is less than $47,162 complete phase out limit. You cannot get the fill EITC because your income is above the $22,300 threshold phase amount. Further examples and details are provided in the previous updates below.

2012 Earned Income (EITC) Tax Credit
2012 Earned Income Tax Credit

Note: The earned income tax credit is not allowed at all if the aggregate amount of certain investment income exceeds $3,200 for the given tax year.

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233 thoughts on “2019 – 2020 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Qualification and Income Thresholds

  1. i eanred a little over 13,000. between workmans comp and ssdi. do i have to file and would i be able tonreceive anything from coranavirus stimulas package?

  2. I am a single mom and made $46,609 in 2018 plus another $4000 or so in Unemployment payments I received for a short time. I have 2 children who live with me full time and will file as a Head Of Household. I don’t receive help from either of their fathers. I have always received the EITC and always get $4k-$6K back on my return. This year it looks like I will need to pay and Im devastated because my income may seem to be a lot but almost $30,000 goes to housing alone not including utilities, insurance, food, car payment etc. I barely make it every month and now the IRS wants more money! Looks like I over earned by $727 acording to the EITC threshold, not including my Unemployment income which Im not sure if that counts as Earned Income as well. If so then I made close to 5K over :( My question is, is there anyway around this regarding deductions? Insurance payments/union dues/etc.? Or no? I cant really afford to pay any extra money out of my paycheck to taxes right now and struggle as it is as a single mom living in Los Angles. I really feel like those limits should be hire in todays world and especially as a single parent. :/

  3. What do the people get if they are on S.S.I. or S.S.I.D. and cannot work even tho it’s considered income?

  4. First year filing taxes and I have a dependent should I wait till the 15th to file or go ahead and file now?

  5. Ok I made 4500 this year with 3 dependts how much should I be getting back

  6. Curious when 17 year olds became adults, they won’t be 18 until July 29th 2018 and are still in high school..Can’t believe we get no credit at all

    1. At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19……

      At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time student

  7. what is the maximum amount of refund I can receive back wen filing head of household and claiming two children?

  8. When and where will the numbers for “2018 Earned Income Tax Credit (for Returns Filed in 2019)” be announced? If the numbers depend on CPI, which CPI version and which months are used? Is EITC expected to continue in roughly its current form? I need to tax plan.

  9. How much would I have to make to be able to claim my son?
    I worked half a year but who filed my taxes said I did not make enough to claim him because I hadnt made enough money…

    1. If you made at least $2500 you are eligible for some of the child tax credit, there’s no such thing as not “making enough to CLAIM HIM” unless you have a custody agreement with a clause indicating right to claim, medical responsibility ect. If that’s not the case and you have full right to claim him then your tax preparer is not trustworthy. I suggest going on turbo tax and seeing what they calculate your return to be before letting anyone submit your file on the 28th.

    1. It depends HOW MUCH over $2000 you made. You have to make a minimum of $2500 for the year to be eligible for ANY of the child tax credit on your 3 kids, if you did make at least 2500 you will probably get a credit of 1900 for each child. To get Max EIC you need to make a min. Of 14,320 (since you have three children). So it just depends… If you made less than 2500 you won’t get much back in credits… Just a very small EIC portion if any. You will get most of what you paid in however which I’m guessing is a couple hundred or less.

  10. I am 74 and have a total with social security and pension of $1,620/month. I am also an amputee (below the knee). I receive a small amount of food stamps, I pay for my medicare. I have no income other than SS and my pension. Do you think I would be eligible for the earned income tax credit?

  11. Is the EIC amount added to your original tax return amount? so lets say while doing my taxes it said i was getting 4,000 back and when you see if you qualify for EIC it says you qualify for 3,000 do that mean if they approve is the grand total will be 7000?? This is my first year really having a dependent so I am curious??/? Please help

    1. Yes EIC is a tax credit – so you get back whatever your qualify for (based on income & dependents). Not tied to your other deductions or refunds. That’s what makes this such a popular credit.

  12. I have four kids filed a 1099 due to self contract I only brought in 10,000 and they said. I am only getting 4900 back. This. Can’t be right filing three got me 9,000 back. I just. Don’t understand

    1. Depending on your income. It needs to be at least around 14,000- 18,500 to get max amount back
      .
      I know for my income matters
      You have o be in the middle to get max
      Examples of mine
      2013 income was 11,000 yrly got 5,000 w 3 UN erarned income cred
      2014 was 13,000 yrly income got 6k for 3 UN earned income cred.
      2015 income was 14,050 yrly icome got 8,100 back
      2016 income was 18,500 it’ll be 8,500 so to get about the max amount back it’s between 14,000-19,000 . Hop this helps.

    2. 1099 is “supplemental pay” and rightfully taxed at 25%… Since when you contracted the work you did not pay taxes out of the wages as you received them, you file a 1099 because you have not yet paid taxes on that income through i9 status(since an I-9 was not submitted to the IRS with the witholdings allocated just like an employer would). Which means you would OWE IN taxes on that amount. Now, since you fall below the earned income threshold you qualify for the EIC which is deductable meaning the amount you owed in got subtracted from that credit. It looks like the 4000$ you are getting back is the minimum tax credit for each qualifying child(the EIC stops increasing after child 3, it’s the same whether you have 3 or 30 qualifying children). If you did not have children or low enough income to qualify for the EIC credit you would have been paying in this year. Last year you probably had I-9 status from an employer and had a W-2 and paid in which would qualify you to get most of what you paid in(if you did not claim kids under exemptions on your I-9) in addition to getting the full credits on both EIC and Child tax credit.

  13. Single mom as of last May, income of $5400 this year. What do I qualify for? Her dad only helped with child support for 2 1/2 months right after the divorce… I need to figure out everything I qualify for ahead of time as I’m trying to get us in our own place by the end of the school year & this would be our life saver!
    Thanks!! :)

  14. i am a single mother and made about 30,000 and have 2 children not sure if i would get full child tax credit for both?

    1. Joan read the article ontop that says 2017,2016 and Past Earned Income Tax credit (EITC) Qualification and Income Thresholds by Andy (Author) He really gave a good breakdown based your income.

      .EITC is not a 1 answer soln it is based on so many factors..that’s why I use Tax professionals like H&R block to figure everything out for me especially with this whole PATH situation going on this yr.. that way you can get the most out of it

  15. single father I made about 30,000 this year have 1 child. would get full child tax credit not sure…

    1. I’m a single mother, I made 29,000 and I’m getting 1,923 child tax credit so I would say “yep, just about” but you won’t make as much EIC as you are used to from previous years

  16. If I have a child who is 18 and still goes to school and he receives long term disability and I care for him can I claim his disability as earned income?

    1. Yes, Per the IRS Earned income includes all the taxable income and wages you get from working or from certain disability payments. This includes Long-term disability benefits received prior to minimum retirement age.

  17. im 24 have one child born 10/13/14 an made about 8500 this year what would i be qualify for?

  18. Can I file my 2015 taxes? My files status is single my wages were $506 and I have no dependents.

  19. I am disabled also I have a son who is 22 and disabled. My husband was self employed and he made 10,212. Do we have to file? Will it affect my son’s and my ssi benefits? How much would we get back if we do have to file?

  20. I am a 24 year old single mom to my 2 year old. This year I have not worked so I earned $0 but I am attending school part time without fafsa. Do I qualify for anything?

  21. My name is Ishmael, and I only made 1,400 this year. I own no property, have no child and not filing head of house hold. And it’s showing that l’ m receiving only 42.00 dollars. Question: is there anything I could do legally to increase my tax return?

  22. Hi I made 26000 and I’m head of house my wife dosent work and I have 2 month old baby do I get the full credit for my baby

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