The earned income credit (EIC) is available to certain individuals who work. This credit is refundable–if the amount you claim exceeds your tax liability (even if your liability is zero), you’ll receive payment for the difference.

How much you get depends on how much your earned income is and how many children you have. For 2014, the maximum EIC amount is $496 if you have no qualifying child, $3,305 if you have one qualifying child, $5,460 if you have two qualifying children, and $6,143 if you have three or more qualifying children.

Several factors determine your eligibility for the EIC. Generally, you (and your spouse, if applicable) must:

  • Have earned income (i.e., income you work for; including wages and net earnings from self employment)
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Have investment income, if any, that does not exceed $3,350 (in 2014)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year (or married to one and choosing for tax purposes to be treated as a resident alien for the year)
  • Not be a qualifying child of another taxpayer
  • Not file as married filing separately
  • Not file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (pertaining to foreign earned income)
  • Meet appropriate income qualifications

In addition to the above requirements, you must meet other requirements. The specific requirements that apply depend on whether or not you have a qualifying child.