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The Child Tax Credit Means Instant Savings for Parents

Along with the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit can save most families money at tax time, provided your child meets the qualifying criteria, and your income does not exceed allowable limits. This credit is fairly easy to qualify for, and if you have more than two children, it may even guarantee you a refund.

This page:

  • Makes clear who can claim the 2017 child tax credit

  • Lists basic criteria needed to qualify

  • Alerts you to another credit you may be able to claim

Note: this credit is not to be confused with the child care tax credit.

Make Claiming All Your Tax Credits Easier:

If you want to avoid costly mistakes, while at the same time taking advantage of all credits and deductions, you'll want to do your taxes with TurboTax this year.

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The Child Tax Credit Can Save Most Parents Money

The child tax credit is equal to $1,000 for every qualifying child. The child does not have to be your own, but you must have contributed to more than half of the child's support and have had the child living with you for more than half the year.

To qualify in 2017, the child must be:

  • Under 17 on December 31st
  • Your son, daughter, adopted child, foster child, stepchild or
  • Your grandchild, great-grandchild, or great-great-grandchild

Maximum Allowable Income to Claim The Credit

For 2017, the credit has a maximum worth of $1,000 per dependent child. However, your income can reduce the credit or, if you exceed certain income limits, make you entirely ineligible for it.

The amount you are allowed to claim is limited on the basis of your modified adjusted gross income.

Your credit amount is affected if your modified adjusted gross income exceeds:

  • $110,000 if you are married filing jointly
  • $55,000 if you are married filing separately
  • $75,000 if you are single

NOTE: this does not mean that if your income exceeds these limits, you cannot claim this credit. Instead, the claimable amount decreases by $50 for every $1000 you are above the income threshold.

If you do your taxes online, your adjusted gross income and final child tax credit will be calculated automatically after you submit some basic information.
You can e-file with TurboTax, where you can easily consult with online tax professionals, should you need to. Plus, you'll be able to work on your return for free, until you decide to file.

When claiming the child tax credit, you will need to provide the child's information on your return. The IRS requires that you supply the child's name, birth date and social security number. Other legal identification numbers can be used in instances where the child does not have a social security number. Without this information, you are ineligible to claim any portion of this credit.

Also, please note that if you file a paper return, you may not use form 1040EZ to claim this credit. You must instead use the more detailed form 1040 or form 1040a to prepare and file your return.

The Additional Child Tax Credit

If you provide a home and support for more than two children, you may also qualify for this additional credit.

The additional child tax credit is a refundable credit, which means it can reduce your tax below zero - guaranteeing you a refund.

Like with the regular credit, your eligibility is dependent on your modified adjusted gross income. However, the calculation is a fairly complicated process, and mistakes are common. In fact the IRS names the additional child tax credit as one of the most common sources of mistakes on returns.

If you claim the additional child tax credit you will need to attach Form 8812 with your return. (If you e-file, this is done for you automatically, and you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your return is filed error-free).

Related IRS Publications

You can get Form 8812 directly from the IRS, along with Publication 972 which explains all the requirements of claiming this credit.

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