Bridge to Benefits - SD - Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
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Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Tax Year 2009
  1. What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
  2. How much money is the EITC worth?
  3. Who can get the EITC?
  4. Does my child or another child I’m raising make me eligible for the EITC?
  5. What if my child doesn’t live with me all the time? Can I still count that child to get the EITC?
  6. If I am not raising children, can I get the EITC?
  7. How do I get the EITC?
  8. I am married. Do I have to file “jointly” to get the EITC?
  9. Are there any asset limits for the EITC?
  10. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get the EITC?
  11. Does if matter how long I have lived in South Dakota to get the EITC?
  12. If I am a Native American, can I get the EITC?
  13. How long will it take to get my federal tax refund?
  14. Where do I get an application?
  15. If I don’t file my taxes will I get the EITC?
  16. Why should I file my taxes if I do not have to?
  17. What if I was supposed to get the EITC last year or the year before but I didn’t?
  18. Where can I go to get my taxes done (file my taxes)?
  19. How much does it cost to file my taxes?
  20. What should I bring to get my taxes done?
  21. What is “Instant Money,” “Money Now” or a “Refund Anticipation Loan”?
  22. Is there a way to estimate how much money I will get from the EITC?
  23. Will getting money from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) affect my eligibility for other programs?
  24. Can I get my EITC refund during the year instead of waiting until tax season?
  25. What counts as “earned income” for the EITC?
  26. What are the income limits for the EITC?
  27. What is gross income?

1. What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax credit that helps low-income working people, especially those who are raising children. Those who are eligible get a larger tax refund or pay less in federal taxes.

The EITC is administered by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

2. How much money is the EITC worth?
Most people get an EITC refund. The biggest EITC refund for Tax Year 2012 is $3,169 (if you have one qualifying child), $5,236 (two qualifying children) or $5,891 (three or more qualifying children).

3. Who can get the EITC?
The EITC is primarily for working parents (or others such as grandparents, relatives or foster parents) who are raising one or more children. There are rules about which children count for the EITC (see the next question). Some working people who are not raising children can also get the EITC (see Questions 6). Your income from work must be below the limits to get the EITC. (See Question 26 for income limits.) Many people who are eligible for the EITC do not get it because they do not file their taxes. They miss out on money meant for them.

4. Does my child or another child I’m raising make me eligible for the EITC?
They must be a “qualifying children.” A qualifying child must be:

  • A son, daughter, adopted child, foster child placed by an agency, grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister (or a descendent of any of these) who lived in your home for at least six months during the past year.
  • Under age 19, or under age 24 if a full-time student. (Totally and permanently disabled children can be counted at any age.)


The change in the Uniform Definition of a Child adds two new rules to the definition of a “qualifying child.” The child must:

  • Be younger than the person claiming the child
  • Not have filed a joint return other than to claim a refund

5. What if my child doesn’t live with me all the time? Can I still count that child to get the EITC?
A child must live with you at least six months of the year to count for the EITC. If a child’s parents do not live together, only one of them can count (or claim) a child for the EITC.

  • If a child lives with you half of the year and another parent or person half of the year, there is a “tie-breaker rule” that says who can claim the child.
  • If more than one person can claim a child, but only one of them is the child’s parent, then the parent decides who can claim the child.
  • If both parents lived with the child for the same amount of time (six months each), then the parent with the highest income decides who can claim the child.
  • If children spent part of every week with one parent and the other part with the other parent, count the number of days the children spent with each parent.

6. If I am not raising children, can I get the EITC?
Yes. Some single adults or couples who working but not raising children can get a smaller EITC. It is worth up to $475 in Tax Year 2012. Adults without children must be at least 25 years old and under 65 years old to get the EITC. EITC income limits are much lower for people not raising children.  (See Question 26 for income limits.)

7. How do I get the EITC?
You can get the EITC only if you file your taxes (or someone files them for you). If you pay someone to do your taxes, it will probably cost you $120 or more. There are, however, free tax preparation sites throughout South Dakota where trained, professional volunteers will prepare your taxes at no cost to you.

To find a free tax site near you, click here. Some sites are open year-round.

8. I am married. Do I have to file “jointly” to get the EITC?
Yes. Married couples must file together to get the EITC. 

9. Are there any asset limits for the EITC?
Yes. For Tax Year 2012, if you have more than $3,200 in investment income, you cannot get the EITC. Other assets such as a checking or savings account or other items do not matter for the EITC.

10. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get the EITC?
No. Legal immigrants can also get the EITC,  but they must have a Social Security number (valid for work) for themselve, their spouse (if they have one) and their qualifying children.

11. Does if matter how long I have lived in South Dakota to get the EITC?
You may be eligible for the EITC even if you lived in a different state for all or part of the year. But, if you did not live in the United States for the whole year, you cannot get the EITC.

12. If I am a Native American, can I get the EITC?
Yes. Even if you lived and worked only on the reservation, you may be eligble for the EITC. But you must also meet the other guidelines for the EITC.

13. How long will it take to get my federal tax refund?
You can usually get your federal refund within 5-10 days of filing if you have a bank account and use direct deposit. If you don’t have a bank account, it will probably take 4-6 weeks to get your refund in a check.

14. Where do I get an application?
There is no application, because the EITC is not a program. To get the EITC, you must file your taxes.

15. If I don’t file my taxes will I get the EITC?
No.

16. Why should I file my taxes if I do not have to?
Many South Dakotans with low incomes can get money back at tax time. If you do not file your taxes, you could miss out on that refund.  Plus, you can get your taxes done for free at many places in South Dakota. To find a free location, click here.

17. What if I was supposed to get the EITC last year or the year before but I didn’t?
You can still get the EITC for up to three years before this tax year if you were supposed to get it and didn't. This is called “back-filing.” Your tax preparer can help you back-file if you need to.

18. Where can I go to get my taxes done (file my taxes)?
To find a list of free tax preparation sites throughout the state of South Dakota, click here.

19. How much does it cost to file my taxes?
If you pay someone to do your taxes, it will probably cost you at least $120, and it could cost much more. If you go to a free tax preparation site, you will not have to pay anything. Click here for a list of free tax sites.

20. What should I bring to get my taxes done?
It is helpful (but not required) to bring your tax return from last year. Also bring the following things:
  • A picture ID.
  • Cards showing Social Security numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). You will also need to know the birthdates for each member of your family.
  • It is helpful to bring a copy your tax return from last year. Taxpayers can file three years back for unclaimed tax credits.
  • Direct deposit information (such as a check) showing your bank account and routing numbers.
  • Year-end income statements showing income from all jobs or payments (W-2 or 1099 forms)
  • Year-end income statements for MFIP, SSI, MSA, GA, Social Security payments, veteran’s benefits and worker’s compensation.
  • If you have a child in school in kindergarten through 12th grade, bring receipts that show the school expenses that you paid for. Examples of school expenses are pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, purchase or rental of an instrument used in school, music lessons, etc. (Optional)
  • Tuition expenses you paid to attend a university or technical college (Form 1098-T). (Optional)
  • Interest paid on student loans (Form 1098-E)
  • Daycare expenses. Bring your provider’s name, address, and tax ID or Social Security number. (Optional)
  • If you are a renter, bring your Certificate of Rent Paid (CRP).
  • If you are a homeowner, bring your statements showing mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid (Form 1098) and Property Tax Payable (mailed by the county in March). (Optional)
  • Charitable donations. (Optional)
  • If you have a small business, daycare, or self-employment income, contact the tax site to see what else you need to bring.

21. What is “Instant Money,” “Money Now” or a “Refund Anticipation Loan”?
These are all names for loans that paid tax preparers offer their customers. If you get one of these loans, you can usually get your refund quicker, but these loans are very expensive. Usually the annual percentage rate (APR) is over 200%! That means you will lose a large part of your refund money if you take out one of these loans. If your refund is delayed for any reason, you will pay even more money for this loan. We recommend that you don’t take out a loan like this. If you can wait a few days to a couple of weeks after you file, you will get all of the money that you are supposed to get.

22. Is there a way to estimate how much money I will get from the EITC?
Yes. The IRS has a website that will help you determine if you are eligible and estimate how much money you could get from the EITC. (This is a guess, not a guarantee of how much money you will get.) Click here to go to their website.

23. Will getting money from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) affect my eligibility for other programs?
The EITC is never counted as income for government programs. But some government programs have resource tests that limit how much money or property families can have (such in a money in a checking or savings account) and still be eligible. For most programs, the money from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is NOT counted as an asset during the month it was received and the following month. After that, the money could affect your eligibility for programs that have resource limits.

Some programs have different rules:
  • For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility, money from the EITC is not counted as an asset for 9 months after you get it.
  • For SNAP (Food Stamps) eligibility, money from the EITC is not counted as an asset for 12 months after you get it.
  • Money placed in an Individual Development Account (IDA) is never counted toward asset limits.

24. Can I get my EITC refund during the year instead of waiting until tax season?
If you received the EITC last year, you can get some of next year's EITC money in each paycheck, instead of waiting until your refund at tax time. Ask your employer for a W-5 form so that you can file for the "Advance EITC" (or AEITC). You can return the form to your employer at any time of the year and start getting a portion of your credit in each paycheck. For example:
 
Mary has two children and qualified for a $2400 EITC last year, but struggled to make ends meet during the year. She filed a W-5 at her job and now gets $100 per month extra in her paycheck. She will get the remaining $1200 from the EITC when she files taxes (12 months of $100 = $1200, plus the $1200 at tax time = $2400).
 
You get the same amount of money from the EITC this way, but with the Advance EITC, you can get almost half of your money back earlier in your paychecks. You get the rest of your credit at tax time. This is to protect you--so you won't be at risk for owing money. For more information, click here to go the the IRS site.

25. What counts as “earned income” for the EITC?
These types of income count as earned income for the EITC: wages, salaries, self-employment earnings, tips, union strike benefits, and long-term disability benefits (if received before retirement). If you have nontaxable combat pay, you can decide if you want to count it as earned income. These types of income do not count as earned income for the EITC: worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance benefits, alimony, child support, interest and dividends, Social Security and railroad retirement benefits, pensions and annuities, variable housing allowances for the military, and earnings for work done while in jail or prison.

26. What are the income limits for the EITC?
For Tax Year 2012, to get the EITC, all of your earned income (income from working) must be below the limits. The limits are different for different groups of people.

For Single Parents:
  • If you are a single parent raising one child, your gross income must be below $36,920 to get the EITC.
  • If you are a single parent raising two children, your gross income must be below $41,952.
  • If you are a single parent raising three or more children, your gross income must be below $45,060.
For Married Parents Filing Jointly:
  • If you are married and raising one child, you and your spouse’s gross income combined must be below $42,130 to get the EITC.
  • If you are married and raising two children, you and your spouse’s gross income combined must be below $47,162 to get the EITC.
  • If you are married and raising three or more children, you and your spouse's gross income combined must be below $50,270 to get the EITC.
For Those Not Raising Children:
  • For single adults, your income must be below $13,980 to get the EITC.
  • For married adults, you and your spouse’s income must be below $19,190.

27. What is gross income?
It is your income before taxes and deductions are taken out.