IRS Earned Income Credit
What is a Qualifying child?

Are you trying to get the most of IRS earned income credit?

Maybe you can claim a child (or two or three) on your schedule EIC. This would really pump up your credit amount.

So let’s see if this is a possibility. The rules of claiming a child sum up in this short sentence.

“You can claim a child who is related to you that lives with you in the US.”


Now let’s look closer at the rules:

Child – until which age does the IRS consider one a child?

  • a person who has not yet hit the age of 19 on the last day of the year

  • or is under 24 years AND a full-time student for at least five months of the year

  • or be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year

Related to you – which relatives are acceptable?

  • Son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, great-grandson, great-granddaughter and so on

  • Brother, sister, niece, nephew, great-niece, great-nephew and so on

  • The relationship above can be by either blood or legal adoption

  • or a foster child placed by an authorized placement agency

Lives with you in the US - the child has to share the same main home in the US as you for more than half the tax year.

There are of course exceptions like:

  • kidnapped children

  • temporary absences (for school etc.)

  • children who were born or died during the year

If the child does not live with you, you cannot claim him for IRS earned income credit. It does not matter if you are the child’s parent, support the child, or claim the child as a dependent; the EIC is directly connected with living in the same home.

A common misconception: People think that to claim a child for EIC you need to support the child. This is not true. The child does NOT have to be your dependent and you do not need to support him.

Somebody other than you can claim the child, too?

The same child can’t be claimed on two different tax returns, of course. But check out maximizing earned income credit to see who could and who should claim the child.

More help on filing the EIC

EIC worksheet

Schedule EIC

IRS Earned income credit tables

Earned Income Tax Credit Calculator



Updated November 12, 2012



› Qualifying Children


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How much will you get for the Child and Dependent Care Credit?

Check out this new calculator, to see how much your credit will be.

For more information or to see if you are eligible see the Child and Dependent Care Credit page.


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