Qualifications for the Indiana Earned Income Tax Credit

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Indiana's earned income tax credit (EITC) has been in effect since 1999, but the state changed it to mirror the terms of the federal credit in 2003 and further adjusted it in later years. It's a refundable credit intended for low-income working families and individuals, so you'll receive the difference in cash if the amount of your tax credit is more than the taxes you owe.

Earned Income Tax Credit Eligibility

You must be eligible for, and claim, the federal earned income tax credit on your federal tax return to qualify for Indiana's EITC. Most of the rules for Indiana's credit follow the rules for the federal credit. You must have earned income, either from an employer or from working in your own business, and the income source can't be foreign.

You must also have a valid Social Security number and be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien throughout the entire year. A nonresident alien can qualify for the tax credit if they're married to a U.S. citizen or a resident alien, and if the couple file a joint married return.

Filing a separate married return prevents you from claiming the federal EITC. You can't claim the Indiana credit if you're the qualifying child dependent of another taxpayer, and someone (such as your parent) claims you as a dependent.

You must be between the ages of 25 and 65 to claim the Indiana EITC if you don't have any dependent children. Otherwise, no age limits apply.

Income Requirements

Your federal adjusted gross income (AGI) and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than certain limits to qualify you for Indiana's earned income tax credit. The following thresholds apply to the 2020 tax year, the return you'll file in 2021:

  • $47,400 if you have two qualifying children
  • $41,750 if you have one qualifying child
  • $15,800 if you have no qualifying children

Rules for Qualifying Children 

The first three rules for qualifying children are the same as for the federal EITC. A qualifying child must be younger than age 19 on the last day of the tax year, or age 24 if they're a full-time student. They also must be younger than you, or younger than both you and your spouse if you're married and are filing a joint return.

Children who are permanently and totally disabled qualify regardless of age.

Qualifying children must have lived with you for more than half the tax year, but time spent away at college or other temporary absences isn't considered living away from home if the child intends to return to your residence.

A qualifying child could be your child, stepchild, grandchild, or great-grandchild. Certain dependents may also count toward your EITC eligibility, such as your sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling, or a descendant of one of these relatives, such as a niece or nephew. A child who's married cannot have filed a joint return with their spouse unless it was only to claim a tax refund. 

A qualifying child cannot also be the qualifying dependent of another taxpayer.

Special Rules for Foster Children

For purposes of the state EITC, Indiana's definition of a foster child includes your sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of your sibling or stepsibling, if you cared for the child in your home just as you would your own child. A foster child can also be an unrelated child who was placed with you by a state agency. Foster children must live with you all year.

You might want to check with a tax professional if you're claiming a foster child for purposes of the earned income credit because of these special rules.

The Amount of the Credit

Indiana's credit can't exceed 9% of your federal EITC, and it can be reduced by 9% of any alternative minimum tax you might owe.

How to Claim the Credit

Complete and attach Schedule IN-EIC to your Indiana tax return. A downloadable form is available on the Indiana Department of Revenue website.

NOTE: The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to them. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.