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Accounting Information > Income Taxes > Who is a qualifying child for the Earned Income Credit (EIC)
Who is a Qualifying Child for the Earned Income Credit?

The earned income credit is a tax credit designed to help lower-income taxpayers. The credit can be claimed by taxpayers with no children, but the amount of the credit is higher if you have a qualifying child, and even higher if you have more than one qualifying child. There are several criteria that must be met in order to claim the earned income credit, or EIC, including having earned income, your adjusted gross income being under the stated limits for the year, filing jointly with your spouse if married, having a social security number, and not being the qualifying child of another person.


Another criteria is that you have at least one qualifying child that lived with you in your home in the United States for more than half the year, unless you meet certain other criteria. So, who is a qualifying child for the EIC? A qualifying child would be your child, grandchild, step-child, or the descendents of any of these. At December 31 of the tax year being reported, the child must not yet be nineteen years old, or not yet twenty-four years old if a full-time student. However, if the child is totally and permanently disabled, there is no age restriction. If your sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling, or any of their descendents, lived with you for over six months, and meet the age nineteen or age twenty-four test, they would also be considered a qualifying child for purposes of claiming the EIC.

If the qualifying child lived with you for more than six months, other then for temporary absences such as for school, vacation, detention in a juvenile facility, or medical care, they would still qualify. The definition of a totally and permanently disabled person is one who is not able to participate in any substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental condition, and for whom a physician has determined that the condition has lasted or will last for at least one year or will lead to death.

If a child could be a qualifying child of two or more people, there are tie-breaker rules to decide who can claim the EIC with that child. If both parents would be able to claim the credit for the same child, and they are not filing a joint return, whichever parent the child lived with for a longer time during the year gets to claim the child. In a case where the child lived with both parents for the same length of time, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income may claim the child. If one parent and one or more other persons could claim the child, only the parent is able to claim the child. If two or more non-parents are eligible to claim the child, the person with the highest adjusted gross income can claim the child for the EIC.

Special rules apply to qualifying children who are married or are nonresident aliens. If your child was married at December 31, you could only claim them as a qualifying child if you would be able to claim them as an exemption, or if you would be able to claim them as an exemption except for the fact that the non-custodial parent has been granted the exemption. A person who was a nonresident alien for part of the year would not qualify for the EIC unless they are married and the couple elected to subject all of their worldwide income to U.S. tax.

If you need help with your income taxes, audit, general accounting, or financial reporting, you are in the right place. Please try out the CPA search feature on this website to find a qualified professional in your area to assist you with all your accounting and tax needs.

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