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Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Claim your Refund

The Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) are special tax breaks for people who work part time or full time. This means extra cash in your pocket. If you have work income, you can file and claim your EITC refunds, even if you don’t owe any income tax. Claiming your EITC is easy. Just file your state and/ or federal tax returns. Be sure to check both state and federal eligibility requirements.

FEDERAL EITC

Federal EITC requires filing of your federal return (form 1040EZ, 1040 or 1040A and Schedule Earned Income Credit). You can also file amended returns for three years back if you did not claim your EITC or CTC in prior years. There is no late filing penalty if you do not owe any tax in the prior year.

Federal Qualifying Chart
Number of Qualifying Children Single, Head of Household or Widowed Married Jointly Filing Federal EITC Maximum Credits
None $14,880 $20,430 $506
1 $39,296 $44,846 $3,373
2 $44,648 $50,198 $5,572
3 or more $47,955 $53,505 $6,269


IRS Update: Legalized same-sex couple marriages are recognized and will be treated as married for federal tax purposes (Revenue Ruling 2013-17). The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor including: filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming EITC or CTC. For more information, please visit www.irs.gov and see Publication 555.

CALIFORNIA EITC

California EITC requires filing of your state return (form 540 2EZ or 540) and having earned income reported on a W-2 form (i.e. wages, salaries, and tips) subject to California withholding. Self-employment income cannot be used to qualify for state credit.

California Qualifying Chart
Number of  Qualifying    
Children
State EITC Income    
Limits
State EITC Maximum
Credits

None

$6,717

$217
1 $10,087 $1,452
2 $14,161 $2,406
3 or more $14,161 $2,706

The EITC refunds are not counted as income when your CalWorks, CalFresh or Medi-Cal benefits are calculated. For more details, please contact your eligibility worker.

Free resources to help you file your tax return

  • EITC Brochure in Spanish/English: This printable brochure provides information about the Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) along with the eligibility requirements.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): For more information about the Federal EITC, please visit the EITC web site or call 1-800-829-1040.
  • Franchise Tax Board (FTB): File your state tax return directly to FTB for free with CalFile. For more information, please contact FTB at 1-800-852-5711 or visit the FTB web site.
  • CalEITC: California joins 24 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting a state EITC to supplement the federal EITC. For more information visit CalEITC4Me .
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): The VITA program offers free tax preparation help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. For more information, please visit the IRS Get Free Tax Prep Help web site or call 1-800-906-9887.