How Much Money Can You Make to Get the Max Amount of Earned Tax Income Credit?

by Jane Meggitt ; Updated August 02, 2018

The earned income tax credit gives a helping hand to low-income working individuals and families. If you want to qualify however, you must make sure your income does not exceed the earned income credit limits.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The earned income tax credit is designed to help low- to moderate-income working people. You must have earned income from working at a job, or from a business or farm that you own. How much money you can make to get the maximum amount from the earned income tax credit depends on the size of your family. Qualifying children for the credit are under age 19 at year’s end, or up to age 24 if they are full-time students for at least five months of the year. Permanently and totally disabled children qualify no matter their age. Qualifying children are not just your biological, adopted or stepchildren. Foster children, grandchildren, siblings, including half and step-siblings, and nieces and nephews qualify as long as they lived with you for at least half of the year.

Keep in mind this is not a maximum income tax refund, but the maximum income tax credit for the earned income credit. A tax credit reduces how much tax you owe, and may lead to a refund.

Credit Exceptions

Even if you otherwise qualify for the earned income tax credit, there are certain exceptions that make you ineligible. These include a married filing separately status, being the qualifying child of another person and filing Form 2555 or Form 2555 EZ, which relates to foreign earned income. If you do not have a qualifying child, you must live in the United States for more than of the year and must be between the ages of 25 and 65. You cannot qualify if you are the dependent of another person.

If the IRS previously denied your credit because of an error and determined you disregarded the rules, you cannot claim the credit for the next two years. If the IRS determined the error resulted from fraud, you cannot claim the credit for the next decade.

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Earned Income Tax Credit 2018 Table

For 2018, your earned income and adjusted gross income if you are single or the head of household must be less than $15,270 without qualifying children; $40,320 with one qualifying child; $45,802 with two qualifying children and $49,194 with three or more qualifying children. If you are married and file jointly, the earned income credit limits are $20,950 without qualifying children; $46,010 with one qualifying child; $51,492 with two qualifying children and $54,884 with three or more qualifying children. Your investment income cannot total more than $3,500. The maximum income tax credit for 2018 is $519 without qualifying children; $3,461 with one qualifying child; $5,716 with two qualifying children and $6,431 with three or more qualifying children.

Earned Income Tax Credit 2017 Table

For 2017, your earned income and adjusted gross income if you are single or the head of household must be less than $15,010 if you do not have qualifying children; $39,617 if you have one qualifying child; $45,007 if you have two qualifying children and $48,340 if you have three or more qualifying children. If you are married and file jointly, the limits are $20,600 if there are no qualifying children; $45,207 with one qualifying child; $50,597 with two qualifying children and $53,930 for three or more qualifying children. Your investment income cannot total more than $3,450. The maximum income tax credit for 2017 is $510 if there are no qualifying children; $3,400 for one qualifying child; $5,616 for two qualifying children and $6,318 with three or more qualifying children.

About the Author

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.

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