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
Senior Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

In his current role as Senior Online Editor, David edits and writes a wide range of content for Kiplinger.com. With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, he has worked on and written for a range of its publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He is a co-host of Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and has helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.