Let Your Kids Help You With Your Taxes: the Child Tax Credit

Get credit on your federal income tax return, just for having children.  If you make under a certain amount, have a child or children under 17 and the child or children are US citizens then you may qualify to get a nice tax credit on your federal income tax return.

The Child Tax Credit: How it Works

i might mention that the child or children can also be US national or US resident alien and they still qualify you to take the child tax credit if all other criteria are met. Adopted children count too, of course.  In the eyes of the IRS, an adopted child is your own child.

What is a Dependent, Exactly?

The child also must be your dependent.  That means you paid for more than half of his living expenses for the year.  So, if your 15 year old daughter makes a ton of money at a summer job and contributes it all to household expenses, you may not be able to claim her as a dependent, and therefore no child tax credit for you.  For tax purposes, it might be better to let her spend her money on clothing or expensive electronic toys or a phone!

And it doesn’t work backwards: just because you support a child and call him or her your dependent, doesn’t mean you get the child tax credit.  That child must be your relative, stepchild or foster child.  The IRS is surprisingly lenient on who can be considered your dependent: your brother, for example.  Your granddaughter.  Even your stepsister!  But that child must be under 17, not providing more than half his or her own support, and must be a US citizen or US national or Us resident alien.

For example, if you are working very hard here in the US and sending most of your money out of the country to let’s say NIcaragua to support your son who was born there and still lives there and is twelve years old, do you get to take the child tax credit?  The answer is no because your son is not a US citizen, national or resident alien.

 Time Served

Oops I mean time lived with you.  The IRS wants to make sure the child tax credit isn’t given out to someone who doesn’t even live with the child half the time.  So, literally, the child for whom you are claiming the credit must have lived with you for at least half the year.  They even get so picky as to whether or not a child who died lived with you for at least half the time he or she was alive.

The IRS also gets into it when your child is kidnapped.  Now, I know that the last thing on your mind would be taxes, if heaven forbid your child is kidnapped.  Bu the IRS cares!  They want to make sure you get your child tax credit even if your child didn’t live with you for half the year because of having to live with a kidnapper.  On account of being kidnapped.

More Info on the Child Tax Credit

For more info and how to fill out the form, you can visit the IRS publication 972 page on the IRS website.  Here, you will find the Child Tax Credit worksheet and all about the Additional Child Tax Credit.  That’s for people who couldn’t claim the entire child tax credit because of making too much money or other reasons.  (If you make more than $75,000 as an individual or $110,000 as a married couple then the amount of your Child Tax Credit gets reduced.)