Tax Resources

Who is a Qualifying Child for the EIC?

Earned income tax credit or EIC is a refundable tax credit which means money directly into the taxpayer's pocket from the IRS. There are many requirements for EIC. Below is a discussion of who is a qualifying child for the EIC.

Who is a qualifying child for the EIC?

For the purpose of calculating and claiming the earned income tax credit, the definition of a qualifying child for the EIC is generally the same as the uniform definition of a dependent child. To be a qualifying child for the EIC, the child must meet all three tests below.

Relationship Test

A qualifying child is a:

  • son, daughter
  • stepchild, grandchild, foster child (legally)
  • brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister
  • descendant of the people above such as a niece or nephew
Age Test

At the end of the tax year, a qualifying child must be:

  • under 19, or
  • under 24 and a full time student, or
  • any age and permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year
Residency Test

A qualifying child must have lived with the taxpayer in the US for more than half a year no matter where the residency is. Even if the taxpayer has no home and is a homeless person, as long as the taxpayer and the child lived together, the child will meet the residency test.

Does a qualifying child have to be a dependent child?

No. A qualifying child for the purpose of EIC (earned income credit) does not have to be a dependent unless he or she is married.

What if two people claim the earned income credit for the same qualifying child?

If the child is a qualifying child for more than one taxpayer, then the two taxpayers can decide among themselves which one of them will claim the qualifying child for EIC. If they cannot agree then the IRS will use the tie-breaker rule to decide who has the claim over the child for the earned income credit. The earned income tax credit is usually awarded to the taxpayer in the order below:

  • parent
  • parent whom the child lived with the longest
  • parent with higher Adjusted gross income (AGI)
  • taxpayer with the highest Adjusted gross income (AGI)

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