Frequently Asked Questions

Top questions about the Earned Income Tax Credit.

In response to the economic fallout felt by millions of Americans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is providing individuals making $75,000 or less -- or $150,000 or less for married couples filing jointly -- with stimulus checks of $1,200, plus $500 for each qualifying child. Payments phase out above these income thresholds.

To determine who is eligible for these payments, the federal government will rely on information collected by the Internal Revenue Service through income tax returns.

In order to receive your stimulus check, you must have filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Those who do will automatically receive a payment. 

If you haven’t filed a tax return for either of those years, you can find online resources here to help you file safely from your home.

For those who have set up direct deposit with the IRS (in previous tax filings), the IRS will provide your stimulus check via direct deposit instead of mailing you a paper check.

If you do not have direct deposit set up with the IRS and you’ve moved to a new address since filing your most recent tax return, you should submit a change of address form in order to ensure that your check is mailed to the correct address.

Yes. During this time of great uncertainty, filing a tax return could help your family access significant cash back in tax credits.

In addition to economic stimulus payments in response to COVID-19, people who typically don’t file a tax return because their income is below the requirement could still be eligible for hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in tax credit refunds through the California and federal Earned Income Tax Credits if they file.

To find out if you qualify for cash back through the California and federal EITC, you can use our eligibility calculator.

Both the federal government and the state of California have moved their tax filing deadlines back 90 days to July 15. However, if you or your family need cash to help you weather the economic fallout from COVID-19, there’s no reason to wait until July 15 to file. In order to receive your stimulus check and a cashback refund from the Earned Income Tax Credit, you must file a tax return. You can find resources to file now for free online here.

 

If you’re 18 or older, or have a qualifying dependent, and you made less than $30,000 in 2019, you will qualify for the CalEITC when you file your state tax return. Use our free CalEITC4Me calculator to find out how much money you could get back.

Between the CalEITC, the federal EITC, and the Young Child Tax Credit the most a family could receive is $8,053.

 

If you’re eligible for the CalEITC and you have a child under age 6 as of Dec. 31, 2019, then you qualify for the Young Child Tax Credit, which could mean up to an additional $1,000 in your refund.

In most cases, yes. If you are single and have no dependents and are between the ages of 18 and 65, you must make $15,570 or less to qualify for the federal EITC. If you are married filing jointly, are between the ages of 18 and 65, and have no dependents, you must make $21,370 or less to qualify for the federal EITC.

If you have dependents and qualify for the CalEITC, you will also qualify for the federal EITC.

Yes! 1099 income counts for both the federal EITC, the CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit.

 

A qualifying child or dependent must meet three criteria:

  1. Relationship – They must be the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or step sibling, or a descendant of any of them.
  2. Residence – Has the same principal residence as the taxpayer in California for more than half the tax year. Certain exceptions apply.
  3. Age – They must be younger than the taxpayer and either a) under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or b) under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least 5 months of the year. A permanently and totally disabled child may be included at any age.

The child only qualifies for one return. If the child can be claimed by more than one taxpayer, the child’s qualification goes to:

  • The taxpayer who is the child’s parent.
  • If more than one taxpayer is the child’s parent, the child’s qualification goes to the parent with whom the child lived for the greatest amount of time during the year. If the child’s time was split equally between parents, the child’s qualification goes to the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • If no taxpayer is the child’s parent, the child’s qualification goes to the taxpayer with the highest AGI.

The federal income tax filing deadline is typically April 15. However, the CalEITC can be claimed throughout the year, so it’s never too late to file an income tax return and claim your refund.

Join our mailing list or use our Free Tax Prep Finder tool to find free tax preparation services near you.

 

To protect yourself from fraud and to file your taxes for FREE you should get your taxes done at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location for. VITA services begin February 1st, and you can use our free tax preparation locator to find a site near you.

 

If you qualify for the EITC, you are eligible to file for free, no-cost in-person tax help through the VITA program. Even if you aren’t eligible for the EITC, VITA is available for people with incomes up to $56,000.

No! Claiming tax credits will not affect any of the other public benefits you might use.

Yes! A criminal history does not impact your ability to claim the EITC, CalEITC or Young Child Tax Credit.

If you want to claim your EITC, you must file your tax returns. The federal EITC lowers the amount of federal taxes you may owe. By claiming the federal EITC, you could reduce what you owe in federal taxes.

Below are the documents you need to when you file your tax returns:

  • Proof of income including W-2s and 1099
  • Documentation of deductible expenses
  • Form of Government Identification
  • Social Security Card for each family member
  • Account and routing numbers for checking or savings accounts for direct deposit and a faster refund
  • Health Insurance Marketplace Statement (1095-A, B, and/or C)
  • Copy of 2016 tax returns, if available

Yes! You’re still eligible for both the federal EITC, the CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit.

If you participate in DACA and applied for a Social Security Number that allows you to work, you can use that number when claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Eligibility requirements change each year so it’s worth checking your eligibility when you file your tax returns each year.

No. If your parents claim you as a dependent, you won’t be eligible for the EITC.

Yes! You qualify. If you are age 65 or younger, do not have any dependents, and meet the income requirements, you are eligible. If you have dependents and meet the income requirements, your age is not a factor in eligibility.

The only way to get the federal and/or state EITC is to file your tax returns. So yes, you need to file your taxes to get the EITC.