Earned Income Tax Credit: A Tax Break for the Middle Class

The EITC can top $6,000 if you have three or more qualifying children.

Even if you don’t owe tax or aren’t required to file a return, there’s a strong incentive for people who work to file anyway: the Earned Income Tax Credit. Depending on your income and how many children you have, this tax credit can be worth as much as $6,242.

The income limits are fairly low. If you have no kids, for example, your earned income and adjusted gross income must each be less than $14,820 if you're single. If you’re married filing jointly, the limit is $20,330. If you have three or more kids and are married, though, your earned income and AGI can be as high as $53,267.

When the tax credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, the IRS will issue a refund to you. But you must file a return to claim the credit—a step many working Americans fail to take.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Check out 8 more tax breaks for the middle class.

David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for Kiplinger.com. With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.