To determine your eligibility for the Earned Income Credit (EIC), the following conditions apply to what is considered a qualifying child.

How much you receive from your tax refund 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.

With Qualifying Child

If you have a child (or children) and wish to claim the EIC as a taxpayer with a qualifying child, your child must have a valid Social Security number and meet all three of the following requirements:

  • The child must have lived with you in the United States for more than half the year (temporary absences due to special circumstances are not treated as absences)
  • The child must be your son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendent of such individuals. A child who is legally adopted by, or lawfully placed for adoption is a qualifying child. A foster child who is placed by an authorized agency, judgment, decree, or other such order is also a qualifying child.
  • Generally, the child must be under age 19, under age 24 if a full-time student, or permanently and totally disabled.

Caution: If you file for the EIC as a taxpayer with a qualifying child, you must complete Schedule EIC and attach it to your tax return.

Tip: U.S. military personnel stationed outside the U.S. on extended active duty are considered to live in the U.S. during that duty period for purposes of the EIC. (Extended active duty means that you are called or ordered to duty for an indefinite period or for a period of more than 90 days.)

Without qualifying child

If you don’t have a child who qualifies under the EIC criteria, you may still be eligible for the EIC. In addition to the general EIC eligibility requirements listed above, you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) must:

  • Be at least age 25 but under age 65
  • Not be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s return (regardless of whether the taxpayer actually claims you as a dependent)
  • Have your main home in the United States for more than half the year

Tip:Individuals in the Armed Forces who are stationed outside the United States on extended active duty are considered to be living in the United States. If you’re temporarily absent from your home solely on account of military service, you may still be eligible for the EIC if you plan to return to your main home at the end of your assignment.

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