Earned Income Tax Credit: The Basics

Tax credits are a great way to pay less in taxes, and the Earned Income Tax Credit is especially useful for lower-income taxpayers. But how does it work?

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, goes through the basic elements of the Earned Income Tax Credit. He notes that the credit is available to low- and middle-income taxpayers, with credits that can exceed $6,000 for those with three or more children who are 18 or younger or are full-time students and 23 or younger, and maximums of $5,372 apply for those with two children, $3,250 for those with one child, and $487 for those with no children. But the idea of earned income is essential for the credit, with only those who earn wages, salary, tips, self-employment income, or other income from work eligible for the credit. Dan also points out that phaseouts apply, with reduced credits available up to roughly $38,000 to $46,000 for single filers with children or $14,000 for those with no children.

To learn more about eligibility, Dan recommends visiting the IRS website and using the Earned Income Tax Credit Assistant, which can run you through the specifics for your situation.

Get the tax breaks you deserve
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a key way many lower-income taxpayers can fight tax increases that took effect at the beginning of 2013 and affected nearly every American taxpayer. But it's not the only way. With the right planning, you can take further steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," the Motley Fool's tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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