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Does the Earned Income Tax Credit Have an Age Limit?

Low- to moderate-income taxpayers under 65 may be eligible for often-overlooked tax break

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​If you have modest income, you may be able to give yourself and your family some extra money with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). And, yes, there is an age limit: Those 65 and older can’t take the credit.

Nevertheless, 23 million workers and families received the EITC last year. The average EITC credit was $2,541 in the 2022 tax season, the latest data available. In addition, many states have their own version of the credit for state income taxes, which, combined with the federal EITC, could lower your tax bill or increase your refund dramatically.

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Tax deductions lower your taxable income, which, in turn, lowers your income tax bill. That’s good. But tax credits reduce your taxes dollar for dollar, which is very good. If you had a $500 tax bill and received a $300 credit, your tax bill would shrink to $200.

The EITC is what’s called a refundable tax credit, and refundable tax credits are a thing of wonder: They can turn a tax bill into a tax refund, or a refund into a bigger refund. For example, let’s say you owed $100 in taxes but had a $500 EITC credit. You’d get a $400 refund from the Internal Revenue Service.

The EITC is no longer available to people 65 and older, as it was for the 2021 tax year. AARP strongly opposed the change. “Placing an age cap on the EITC is a blatant form of age discrimination,” says Holly Biglow, a government affairs director at AARP focused on older workers. “Older workers should not lose a valuable credit simply because they turn 65. Congress must act to end this legal form of age discrimination and ensure older workers have access to the same tax credits as their younger counterparts.”

The EITC is aimed at workers with low incomes, and particularly those with qualified children, although you can claim the EITC if you don’t have a child. To qualify, you must have worked and earned income of less than $63,398 in the 2023 tax year. You must have had investment income of less than $11,000. You must have a valid Social Security number and you must have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.

The EITC qualifications are complex. To find out if you qualify, use the IRS EITC Assistant.

Qualified children must be under the age of 19, or, if a student, under 24. The child must also have lived with you for at least half the year. There is no age limit for permanently disabled children. 

  • The child must be your:
  • Son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child or foster child
  • Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepsister or stepbrother
  • Grandchild, niece or nephew

Your child may also be a foster child placed with you by a government agency or court order.

There are also income limits on who can get the EITC. For the 2023 tax year, those limits are:

  • $56,838 ($63,398 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children who have valid Social Security numbers
  • $52,918 ($59,478 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children who have valid Social Security numbers
  • $46,560 ($53,120 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child who has a valid Social Security number
  • $17,640 ($24,210 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children who have valid Social Security numbers
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The EITC credit can be as high as: 

  • $7,430 with three or more qualifying children
  • $6,604 with two qualifying children
  • $3,995 with one qualifying child
  • $600 with no qualifying child

State EITC credits

According to the Urban Institute, 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have EITC programs for state taxes. Some state EITC programs offer refundable tax credits; others do not. The Urban Institute map will tell you if your state has an EITC program.

Most state EITCs are calculated as a percentage of the federal EITC. If you need help calculating the EITC, there are several programs, such as AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, that will help you with federal and state taxes at no cost.

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