Claiming The Child Tax Credit

Milton Boothe

The child tax credit is a credit given for each dependent child on your tax return, who is under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year. The child tax credit is a nonrefundable credit, and is intended to provide an extra measure of tax relief for taxpayers with qualifying children.
To qualify for this credit, you must have a qualifying child on your tax return. The rules for determining if your child is a qualifying child for the purpose of this credit are as follows:

• The child must be your son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them. (This includes your niece, nephew, grandchild, great-grandchild, etc.)
• The child must not provide for over half of his or her own support for the year.
• The child must be a citizen or resident of the United States.
• The child must be under the age of 17 on the last day of the tax year.
• Generally, you must claim the child as a dependent on your tax return.
• The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.
• The child must be younger than you.
• The child must not have filed a joint return, unless the joint return was filed only to claim a tax refund, and no tax liability would have existed on separate returns.

An adopted child qualifies be your qualifying child, even if the adoption is not final, as long as the child has been placed with you by an authorized agency for legal adoption.

An eligible foster child qualifies to be your qualifying child, as long as he or she was placed with you by an authorized placement agency, by judgment decree, or any other court of competent jurisdiction.

How to Claim the Child Tax Credit:

The child tax credit allows you to claim up to $1,000 per qualifying child. If you cannot claim the entire amount of the credit, because your tax is lower than the credit, and cannot absorb the full amount of the credit, you may be able to claim the balance as a refundable Additional Child Tax Credit.

The Phase Out Amounts:

The child tax credit is one of those credits, which begin to phase out after your income exceeds a certain amount. This credit begins to phase out when your modified adjusted gross income exceeds the following amounts for each filing status:

MFJ – $110,000
HOH, QW, or Single – $75,000
MFS – $55,000

The credit will begin being reduced by $50 for every $1,000 that your income exceeds the above threshold amounts, so the Child Tax Credit Worksheet from IRS Publication 972 should be used to compute the actual amount of your child tax credit.

(Note that off the shelf tax software, such as TurboTax, will effectively complete this worksheet and include it in your tax return.)

The primary objective of this article is to empower taxpayers to learn to do their own taxes. For detailed information on how to claim all your tax credits, grab yourself a copy of “Doing Your Own Taxes is as Easy as 1, 2, 3” on

Milton G Boothe is an IRS Enrolled Agent with over twenty years of tax and financial accounting experience, including several years at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is also a British certified Chartered Accountant. He is currently employed in private tax practices where he helps people resolve their tax problems, minimize their taxes, and routinely represents the interests of taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. As an Enrolled Agent (EA) Boothe is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals.
Milton G Boothe is also the author of several tax publications, wherein he encourages people to empower themselves by learning to do their own taxes.

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