Q. What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?
A. The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC or EIC, is a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund.

Additionally, many states have a state version of the EITC to supplement the federal credit. State EITC programs use the same eligibility rules as the federal EITC. Those who qualify for the EITC can also claim Oregon's Earned Income Credit (EIC), which is 8% of the taxpayer's federal credit.

Q. Do I qualify for EITC?
A. To be eligible, taxpayers must have earned income last year and have a valid Social Security number (SSN). Other eligibility requirements for filers include that they cannot use the "married filing separate" filing status, children claimed on the return can't be the qualifying child of another person, and they must be a US citizen or resident alien for the entire year (in most cases).

Earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) limits vary depending on whether you are filing jointly or individually and the number of qualifying children you claim.

Only earned income counts toward the credit. This includes wages, salaries, tips, and other taxable employee pay, and union strike benefits. It also covers net earnings from self-employment and gross income received as an independent contractor. Child support, retirement income, Social Security benefits (SSDI and SSI), unemployment benefits, alimony, and pay received for work while in prison do not count toward the credit.

Q. What Disability Benefits Qualify as Earned Income for EITC?
A. IRS considers disability retirement benefits as earned income until you reach minimum retirement age. Minimum retirement age is the earliest age you could have received a pension or annuity if you did not have the disability. After you reach minimum retirement age, IRS considers the payments your pension and not earned income.

Benefits such as SSDI, SSI, or military disability pensions are not considered earned income and cannot be used to claim EITC. For more information about disability and EITC, see www.irs.gov/Credits-&-Deductions/Individuals/Earned-Income-Tax-Credit/Disability-and-Earned-Income-Tax-Credit.

Q. I received a letter from the IRS about EITC. What should I do?
A. The IRS sends letters for reasons including, but not limited to, the following: to let you know that you may qualify for EITC, if they need to verify that you can claim EITC, or if they are proposing changes to your EITC. If you receive a letter or notice, don't ignore it. Follow the directions on the letter to get the EITC you deserve. All the information you need is in the letter.
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