Adoption Tax Credit
Find out if you are eligible for a Federal Tax Credit for adopting a child.
This course is designed to help adoptive families determine their eligibility for the adoption tax credit, understand how the tax credit works, create a system for tracking and documenting expenses, and prepare for filing taxes.
The Adoption Federal Tax Credit: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 permanently extend the adoption credit of an earlier act. The maximum credit is increased to approximately $12,000 per eligible child, including a child with special needs. Up to approximately $12,000 credit is provided in the year an adoption is finalized. There is an income phase out for this credit. It is advised you check with your attorney and/or your accountant on this tax credit.
Adoption Credit: You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child (including a child with special needs). The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from your tax liability. Although the credit generally is allowed for the year following the year in which the expenses are paid, a taxpayer who paid qualifying expenses in 2008 for an adoption which became final in 2008, may be eligible to claim the credit on the 2008 return. The adoption credit is not available for any reimbursed expense.
For both the credit or the exclusion, qualifying expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home), and other expenses directly related to and for which the principal purpose is the legal adoption of an eligible child. An eligible child must be under 18 years old, or be physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself. The adoption credit or exclusion cannot be taken for a child who is not a United States citizen or resident unless the adoption becomes final. An eligible child is a child with special needs if he or she is a United States citizen or resident and a state determines that the child cannot or should not be returned to his or her parent's home and probably will not be adopted unless assistance is provided.
The credit and exclusion for qualifying adoption expenses are each subject to a dollar limit and an income limit.
Under the dollar limit the amount of your adoption credit or exclusion is limited for each effort to adopt an eligible child. If you can take both a credit and an exclusion, this dollar amount applies separately to each. For example, if you paid $9,000 in qualifying adoption expenses for a final adoption, and your employer paid $4,000 of additional qualifying adoption expenses, you may be able to claim a credit of up to $9,000 and also exclude up to $4,000.
The approximate $12,000 amount is the maximum amount of qualifying expenses taken into account over all taxable years. Therefore, it must be reduced by the amount of qualifying expenses taken into account in previous years for the same adoption effort, including an unsuccessful effort to adopt a different child.
The income limit on the adoption credit or exclusion is based on your modified adjusted gross income (modified AGI).
Generally, if you are married, you must file a joint return to take the adoption credit or exclusion. If your filing status is married filing separately, you can take the credit or exclusion only if you meet special requirements.
To take the credit or exclusion, complete Form 8839 (PDF), Qualified Adoption Expenses. You will attach Form 8839 to Form 1040 (PDF) or Form 1040A (PDF) and report the credit on line 53 of Form 1040 or line 34 of Form 1040A. Additional information on the adoption credit and exclusion can be found in Publication 968, Tax Benefits for Adoption. Employers should order Publication 968 to obtain information on setting up an adoption assistance program and information on how to report this benefit.
An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number is needed when applying for a child deduction on your U.S. income tax return if you do not yet have a Social Security # for the child. This site will help you with information about a temporary adoption identification number. The number is used on tax forms in place of the child's Social Security Number.