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Qualifying child rules

Your child must have a valid Social Security Number that is valid for employment and must pass all of the following tests to be your qualifying child for EITC:

  • Relationship
    • Your son, daughter, adopted child1, stepchild, foster child2 or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchild
    • Brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew
  • Age. At the end of the filing year, your child was:
    • Younger than you (or your spouse if married filing jointly) and
      • younger than 19, or
      • younger than 24 and a full-time student
    • Any age if permanently and totally disabled3
  • Residency
    • Child must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States4 for more than half of the year.
  • Joint Return
    • The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a filing requirement and filed only to claim a refund.

Note: A qualifying child cannot be used by more than one person. Please reference the tie-breaker rules  found in IRS Publication 596.

1Adopted Child. An adopted child is always treated as your own child. It also includes a child lawfully placed with you for adoption.

2Foster Child.  For EITC, a child is your foster child if the child is placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction. (An authorized placement agency includes a state or local government agency or an Indian tribal government. It also includes a tax-exempt organization licensed by a state or an Indian tribal government.)

3Permanently and totally disabled.  Your child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply:  1). The child cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and 2). A doctor determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last at least a year or lead to death.

4United States. This means the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It does not include Puerto Rico or U.S. possessions such as Guam.

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