Qualifying Child Tests: relationship, age, residency and joint return.
Filing for the earned income tax credit is a major credit that can increase your tax refund. It’s important to ensure you qualify before taking this credit or your refund can be delayed. The guidelines for a qualifying child are generally easy to understand. Divorce, separation, custody rules for EITC can be an argument between parents and caregivers and EITC rules can get confusing. Know the earned income tax credit qualifying child rules.
Read more here and join the IGMR EITC Discussion Group.
So what are the EITC qualifying child rules?
Qualifying Child for EITC
- Valid Social Security Number must be a US Citizen
- They must live with you.
- Child is son, daughter, adopted, stepchild, foster child or grandchild.
- Child is younger than 19.
- Child is younger than 24 and a full-time student (Yes! My child in college still qualifies for EITC and is over 19! Good, he still needs mommy.)
- Child is any age and is permanently and totally disabled.
- Your child must be younger than you. (Huh what? Yes, it says this in the IRS rules. Come on, think about those parents who remarry much younger… the math still doesn’t add up for me.)
- Cannot file as married filing separate
What if my child…
Questions and concerns can arise from these seemingly easy rules. Many of these questions arise for EITC parents who are divorced or separated and arise over the Child Tax Credit too.
- How long does child need to live with me to claim EITC?
- My ex wants to claim the EITC for my child, should I file first?
- Can I allow the non-custodial parent to claim the EITC instead?
- Can I claim my grandchild?
- Who can file for EITC if we have joint custody?
- How do I file for EITC if we are divorced or separated?
- My ex already filed for EITC and there is a Court order not to claim EITC.
- Can we alternate claiming EITC?
- What happens to my EITC credit if our divorce is not final?
In some years, EITC related refunds were delayed because a large number of people have filed for EITC and the child did not meet certain criteria. You can be audited, charged additional tax, pay penalties and interest if you improperly file for the EITC. Don’t risk it and be sure you qualify.
The IRS also has many resources than can help answer these common but sticky questions about the earned income tax credit: