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FAQ

What is the earned income tax credit?
The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC, is a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund.To qualify for EITC you must have earned income from working for someone or from running or owning a business or farm and meet basic rules. You must either meet rules for workers without a qualifying child or have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules.Qualification for EITC depends on filing status, number of children and income. (2022 amounts shown here)Single, Head of Household or Widowed# of Children-Income Limit0-$14,5901-$38,5112-$43,7563 or more $46,997Married Filing Jointly# of Children-Income Limit0-$20,0201-$43,9412-$49,1863 or more-$52,247Income limits apply to both earned income and adjusted gross income.Investment income must be no more than $3,350 for the year.The maximum amount of credit for Tax Year 2022 is:$6,143 with three or more qualifying children$5,460 with two qualifying children$3,305 with one qualifying child$496 with no qualifying childrenQualifying Child RulesYour child must have a Social Security Number that is valid for employment and must pass all of the following tests to be your qualifying child for EITC: RelationshipYour son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, foster child or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchildBrother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephewAgeAt the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time studentAt the end of the filing year, your child was any age and permanently and totally disabledResidencyChild must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States for more than half of the yearJoint ReturnThe child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.
How would you rewrite the US tax code? What would the new tax brackets be? Would you keep the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Alternative Minimum Tax? Would you repeal the mortgage interest deduction or enact the Buffet rule?
I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time.I don’t think the income tax can be redeemed. It is impossible to make it work.Here are three absolutes for a tax:Revenue raisingFairnessAdministrabilityThe problem with the income tax is that you can any two elements, but you cannot have the third. Income tax is just too complex.I’m not talking about the personal income tax on employment income. That’s pretty easy to measure most of the time. But as soon as you tax business or property income (things like interest, dividends, rents, royalties and capital gains), it gets complicated.Why? Because you’re not just measuring the inflow, you’re measuring net income. That’s after deductions. Not just arbitrary deductions, like mortgage interest, but a general class of expenses incurred to earn that income.Now layer on top of that complexity the fact that people can (and often must, for non-tax reasons) incorporate their businesses, or run them through other forms of organization (in the United States, partnerships and LLCs, among others).That’s not enough? Now you have to do it in an international environment. What do you do about domestic companies earning foreign income? What about foreign companies earning domestic income? Ever hear of a Double Irish? Sounds like a good drink, or a sex position. It’s not. But if you’re particularly hungry, it comes with a Dutch Sandwich.Oh, the income tax can raise money, and it does. At least for a while. And it can be made mostly fair. But this is what the US regulations look like:And of course in an international world, there is something like this in the other countries as well. So every company has to pay expensive people (lawyers and accountants like me) to figure this stuff out forwards and backwards.And the governments have to do the same.Of course, governments don’t pay their civil servants very well, so they (mostly) don’t have the same expertise as the opposite side. They simply don’t have the skilled manpower to audit enough to find the errors and omissions (whether intentional or not).And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Congress is slowly defunding the IRSBut I digress.Of course, you could simplify things. Tax only domestic income, not foreign income. That would stop things like Tax inversions. But would it be fair? There’s a long list of simplifications that could be made, but most of them would open up loopholes. A huge part of tax legislation is nothing but loophole-closing.Or you could dramatically lower tax rates. It doesn’t pay to use me, if you’re only going to save $12 in tax. Lower tax rates make tax strategies inefficient.But that would lower the amount of revenue raised.Are you ready to halve Social Security? Bye-bye Obamacare (Trumpcare, whatever).The solutionDo what the Europeans do (and Canada, and New Zealand, and lots of other places) - institute a Value-added tax (“VAT”).But do it with an American twist - kill the income tax.A VAT is a sales tax, but it’s levied on just about everything (properly done, even food). It’s a sales tax, not an income tax. That means your costs are irrelevant. That makes it much simpler (a business just has to measure your input tax credits, but that’s just the amount it paid in VAT on its purchases - that’s easy).Because the base is so broad, the rate can be much lower than the income tax rate, to generate the same revenue.It is far simpler to run than an income tax. There are scores of examples that prove this.ObjectionsMoving tax from corporations to individualsA major objection is that it removes tax from corporations, and lays it all onto individuals. This appears at first blush to be a reasonable objection. But there is a great deal of evidence, accepted by economists across the spectrum, that corporate taxes don’t really fall on shareholders - they fall primarily on employees of the corporation (and some on customers). Just because corporations write the check to the government doesn’t mean they actually bear the cost.Tax incidence - WikipediaProgressivityThe biggest objection is that a VAT is regressive. That’s easy to overcome - pay out a subsidy to low-income people. This is how every VAT is instituted.In a country with no income tax (as I suggest), the solution is to pay the subsidy to everyone. Yes, this appears expensive, but for most people, it’s just money running around in a circle. You can set the rate appropriately to do this. And you can combine it with a Guaranteed Annual Income - a darling concept of both the left and right.Is it as progressive as income tax? No. There’s no tax that can replicate the income tax’s progressivity, because progressivity is specifically defined (now) as causing a higher-income person pay tax at a higher rate.The problem with this definition is the definition of “high income”. As noted above, “income” is a very difficult concept to measure consistently, especially at the highest levels. So we come up with some proxies for it. They’re still not very good.And when you apply very high tax rates (hello France, Canada, California and New York City), you get economically inefficient behavior. People spend a lot of time trying to minimize their taxes instead of earning more income. Instead of employing more factory workers they employ more accountants. Good for me, but not so good for the economy.Or they cheat. Or they leave the jurisdiction altogether. Do you think it’s a coincidence that so many American professional athletes live in Florida rather than New York? Oh yeah• it’s just for the weather• yeah.Millionaire athletes flee states with high income taxesDoes anybody remember The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs?Tax on foreignersAnother objection is that a VAT imposes no tax on foreigners. Right now, if a foreigner earns US investment income, s/he/it has to pay US income tax. That revenue would be lost.Actually, no. Again, for the same reason that corporations effectively bear no tax, neither do foreigners. Their after-tax rate of return (for a given risk level) is fixed. The net effect here would be to increase foreign investment in the United States, creating jobs.How about a different definition of progressivity?In real life, rich is what you spend, not what you earn. Rich people spend a lower proportion of what they earn. They give away the difference. Some goes to charities, and some goes to family. But in either case, when it gets spent, it would generate VAT revenue.ConsistencyOne factor that people often miss in tax policy design is consistency. A good tax will generate roughly the same governmental revenue in good years and bad. The reason this kind of a tax is beneficial is that it allows for future planning. Governments spend on short-term stuff, but they also make long-term commitments. Predictable revenues make the political choices more transparent.Income taxes - especially business taxes, and tax from rich people - bounce up and down quite a lot. When the economy’s good, they gush. When the economy is bad, those entrepreneurs generate losses.VAT revenues are much less affected by these fluctuations.If you’re a Keynsian, and you want to use government to “prime the pump”, you can still do this - but with spending (again, politically transparent), rather than the tax system.TransparencyThe best thing, for people, about a VAT is that if governments want more money, they have to raise the rate - on everybody. Right now, there’s a lot of “don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax that guy behind the tree”. Politically easy targets get tax hikes, even if it makes little economic sense.A VAT is good for democracy. There’s no free money. Politicians can’t fool you by taxing one person, but having another bear the cost.ConclusionA VAT beats an income tax hands down. Except for politicians who use income tax to fool people.
Is the Earned Income Tax Credit in effect a subsidy to business?
EDIT: I finally got a decent answer to the question, from economics writer Ben Casselman: the advantage of the EITC is that it targets the money just to low income *households*. A significant number of low-wage earners are in the "middle-class kids with summer jobs" category.http://fivethirtyeight.com/datal...That doesn't alter the fact that it's still a subsidy to employers, who get to pay teenagers and grown-ups the same minimum wage without having to make it a living wage for either category. The teenagers earn less money for the same work, a unique form of "means testing" for the laboring class. The EITC is a point of contention among conservatives. Some feel that it's yet another government thumb on the scales. Ever the contributor to nuance and insight, Ron Paul's fans dub The Earned Income Tax Credit - Government THEFT.On the other hand, Milton Friedman approved of it, as being relatively free of government interference. I honestly have zero conception of why he would say such a thing, though it appears to have something to do with the fact that it was a more work = more money approach. Greg Mankiw points out that the EITC is aimed at children, rather than at mere laborers. Again, I'm not sure why he would say such a thing: the EITC is adjusted for more children, though it seems more of a subsidy for families and as such yet another bit of government interference.Honestly, in the end, I'd have to say it's because tax credits = starve the beast, as if that actually made any sense. Yes, it's a subsidy for businesses, who get to have laborers work for sums closer to the subsistence line without having them actually starve. The way EITC is designed it appears to support conservative social goals in a way that minimum wage doesn't, but both are equally government manipulation of the labor market, and the EITC puts more of the burden on the tax filer and away from the business.
What is the purpose of the earned income tax credit?
As an excellent alternative to raising the minimum wage. We have two problems, at odds with each other. We have poor people, with children, who need to increase their income to support those children. We also have poor people with little job experience, so they can’t get a higher paying job. They need entry level jobs that don’t pay the same as lower management (and certainly not what middle and upper management need). If we force the minimum wage to be a wage that could support a single adult plus a child, then we price some of those entry level jobs out of the market. That hurts adults who need to get job experience, and it also hurts teenagers looking for date money. (Note that this doesn’t happen every time min. wage is raised, but it does happen some of the time. Often enough we should look for a good alternative.)However, if we leave the minimum wage at a ‘decent• level, but not high enough to support an adult and a child, we keep more of those jobs on the market. And the EIC can help those adults support themselves and that child. The teenager looking for date money doesn’t need that, and they aren’t eligible for EIC. Voila. People are working instead of getting 100% of their support from the gov’t. Entry level jobs are more plentiful. People who need financial help to raise children are getting it. If done right, EIC addresses a lot of issues.
Why can't I get an earned income tax credit if my spouse doesn't have a social security number?
As Wray suggests, the EITC law was written to require SSNs for all parties precisely to reduce the possibility of fraud.I want to focus on the other part of Wray's answer, to re-emphasize that your spouse needs to have a tax ID number - an ITIN if she does not qualify for an SSN. Since she qualifies as a resident alien under the substantial presence test, she has all of the obligations of a US citizen under the tax laws. While you still can't claim the EITC you can at least file a joint return with the higher standard deduction and perhaps be eligible for other benefits not available to you as MFS.
What does Bernie Sanders think of earned income tax credits?
I have not researched Bernie Sander's stance on this specifically, but the Earned Income Credit is all that he represents and I would guess he is a strong supporter. The EIC is designed to help low income earners, and disqualifies those who make too much money or a material amount from other sources (i.e. investments). It is the main driver of large refunds that low income taxpayers receive, and is the epitome of income redistribution. A credit that benefits low income families, I believe Sanders is probably a supporter. I would imagine his only concern is the limits put in place for those in this category and the amount of money they get back. I'm sure he would like for those to be increased, but is a supporter of such credit being in the tax code. Take care,Sean MeyerCloud Controller, Inc.
Should illegal workers with children get Earned Income Tax Credit checks like citizens who are single parents?
Q: Does the IRS pay billions in tax refunds to workers who are in the U.S. illegally?A: Yes. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General determined that $4.2 billion was paid in 2022. up from less than $1 billion in 2022. Leading Democrats are resisting a bill that would stop future payments.The Washington Post and others reported on this last year when the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration issued a report on July 7, 2011.The title of the report summed up the IG’s finding: “Individuals Who Are Not Authorized to Work in the United States Were Paid $4.2 Billion in Refundable Credits.”The credits currently amount to $1,000 per child, and they are “refundable,” meaning that parents may receive refunds even when they do not owe any tax.The IG report stated that more than 2.3 million persons who did not have Social Security numbers valid for working in the U.S. got an average of roughly $1,800 each in 2022 in child tax credit refunds. That included 9,000 illegal immigrants who each got a total of $10,000 or more by retroactively claiming credits for tax years prior to 2010.Tax Credits for Illegal ImmigrantsThe IRS knowingly allows illegal aliens who claim children to get Earned Income Tax Credit cash payments of up to $5,891 per household. This is one reason why these cash payments are expected to exceed $52 billion in fiscal year 2022 alone. The General Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that roughly a quarter of all Earned Income Tax Credit payments are issued improperly.Compounding the problem is the Additional Child Tax Credit, which was added to the older Child Tax Credit program that became law in 1997. The Child Tax Credit reduces the tax low-income families pay by $1,000 for each child under 17. If the tax filer claims five children for a credit of $5,000 but owes only $2,000 in taxes, under the Additional Child Tax Credit the IRS sends the filer a check for the difference, or $3,000.The federal tax agency makes no effort to verify the existence of children or the eligibility of the tax-credit recipients to work in the United States. Indeed, IRS managers reportedly encourage their staff to ignore questionable applications and blatant fraud for the sake of fast-tracking Individual Taxpayer Identification Number approvals.A 2022 Treasury Department study found the IRS paid illegal immigrants $4.2 billion in Additional Child Tax Credit refunds in 2022. representing nearly one-fifth of all ACTC refunds paid that year.Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/n...
How can I get an earned income tax credit?
If you qualify. It will depend if you meet the requirements for Earned Income Credit on your tax return. You may find additional information at: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)You may be able to take the credit if: You have three or more qualifying children and you earned less than $47,955 ($53,505 if married filing jointly), You have two qualifying children and you earned less than $44,648 ($50,198 if married filing jointly), You have one qualifying child and you earned less than $39,296 ($44,846 if married filing jointly), or You don't have a qualifying child and you earned less than $14,880 ($20,430 if married filing jointly).Your adjusted gross income also must be less than the amount in the above list that applies to you. For details, see Rules 1 and 15. Delayed refund if claiming EIC. Due to changes in the law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before February 15, 2022. for returns that claim the EIC. This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with the EIC. Investment income amount is more. The maximum amount of investment income you can have and still get the credit has increased to $3,400. See Rule 6.
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