How To Determine If You Are Eligible For A Child Tax Credit

You are eligible for the Child Tax Credit if you have a qualifying child/children and you have earned income, according to the IRS requirements, which are:

  1. Your child is aged 16 years or younger, as of December 31 of the tax year.
  2. Your child is a U.S. citizen, U.S. National or U.S. Resident Alien and has a social security number. There is an exception for an adopted child.
  3. You have $2,500 of earned income as an employee or from self-employment. This is down from $3,000 prior to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
  4. The amount of the credit is tied to the amount of your earned income.
  5. The credit is limited if your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. The amount at which this phase-out begins varies, depending on your filing status.
  6. For individual filers, the phase-out begins at $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).

Starting with tax year 2018, the Child Tax Credit will allow you to reduce your federal income tax by up to $2,000 for each qualifying child.

$1,400 of which is a refundable credit, expats who managed to bring their tax owing down to zero by using the foreign tax credit would therefore receive a refund of $1,400. This amount will be adjusted for inflation after 2018.

Your child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, sibling, stepsister/brother or a descendant of any of these individuals. A legally adopted child is treated as your own child. The child must not have provided more than half of their own support and you need to claim them as a dependent on your federal tax return. The qualifying child should have lived with you for more than half of the tax year, and there are some exceptions to the residence test.

Have a tax question? Contact Olivier Wagner.


Olivier Wagner

Olivier Wagner

Certified Public Accountant, U.S. immigrant, expat, and perpetual traveler Olivier Wagner preaches the philosophy of being a worldly American. He uses his expertise to show you how to use 100% legal strategies (beyond traditionally maligned “tax havens”) to keep your income and assets safe from the IRS. Before obtaining my U.S. citizenship and traveling all over the world, he was born and raised in France. His experience learning the intricacies of the U.S. immigration process combined with his desire to travel freely lead me to specialize in taxes for Americans living and working abroad. He helps Americans Abroad file their taxes and devise strategies that make sense for their lifestyle. These strategies encompass all aspects of registering an offshore business, opening a bank account abroad, and planning out new residencies and citizenships. He is operating the accounting firm 1040 Abroad. 1040 Abroad exists to help you make sense of an incredibly large world of possibilities. Find out more by visiting

One thought on “How To Determine If You Are Eligible For A Child Tax Credit

  1. Robert Commerson says:

    What if the parent has only Pension & SS income, but no wages? Can that widowed parent claim the Child Tax Credit?

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