The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a special tax credit for people who work. If you qualify, the amount of the credit is subtracted from the taxes you owe! If you don’t owe any taxes, the government pays all of the credit to you! For 2012, the maximum amount of the credit is $5891.
You can qualify for the EIC if you work full-time or part-time. You must also be a US citizen, a lawful permanent resident OR have permission to work from Immigration. The amount of the credit you receive depends on how many children you have, and how much you earn. You may also qualify for the credit if you are not married or if you have no children. If you have no qualified children to claim you must be at least age 25 but less than age 65.
The children you claim must be US citizens or Permanent Residents and have a valid social security card. Your child must be your son, daughter, adopted child, grandchild, stepchild (or their descendants), or a foster child placed in your home by an authorized placement agency- or, also your brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother, step-sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew.
The children you claim must have lived with you in the US for more than half of the tax year. Also, your child must be under age 19 at the end of the tax year (there are some exceptions to this age requirement).
To claim the credit, you must file an income tax return, even if you owe no taxes. The EIC credit will NOT affect your immigration status or any application you have pending with Immigration. It will also NOT affect your eligibility for government benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment, or other benefits.