If you wish to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and you fall under the income limitations in relation to your adjusted gross income, the next rule you have to meet requires you to have a valid Social Security Number (SSN). If you file jointly with your spouse, both parties have to have an officially issued SSN by the Social Security Administration.

If the provision “Not Valid for Employment” is listed on your Social Security Card (or your spouse’s if you file together), then you are ineligible to claim the EITC. The same is true if your card was issued specifically so you could accept a federally funded benefit, such as Medicaid.

Should your immigration status change, you’ll need to seek a new card from the Social Security Administration that doesn’t include the above provision, especially if you have become a permanent resident or citizen. You are eligible to file an amended return, using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, if you receive your new SS card after you’ve already filed.

If your card contains a provision stating: “Valid for Work only with INS (or DHS) Authorization”, then your social security number is valid for the amount of time that the authorization remains in place.

It’s important to ensure you fill in the correct SSN for both you and your spouse, if filing jointly, as failure to do so may result in termination of the EITC. In some cases, the IRS has issued individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) to non-citizens who are ineligible for a SSN. These taxpayers do not qualify for the EITC.

You cannot claim the EITC unless you have a valid SSN. If you are in the process of getting one, but the tax deadline is approaching, you can either request a 6-month extension to file your tax return, or file the return on time without claiming the EITC. You can then file an amended return once you get your SSN.

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