The child tax credit benefits eligible parents

IRS Tax Tip 2019-141, October 9, 2019

Taxpayers who claim at least one child as their dependent on their tax return may be eligible to benefit from the child tax credit. It’s important for people who might qualify for this credit to review the eligibility rules to make sure they still qualify. Taxpayers who haven’t qualified in the past should also check because they may now be able to claim the credit.

Here are some details about this credit:

  • The maximum amount of the credit is $2,000 per qualifying child.
  • Taxpayers who are eligible to claim this credit must list the name and Social Security number for each dependent on their tax return.
  • The child must be younger than 17 on the last day of the tax year, generally Dec 31.
  • The child must be the taxpayer’s son, daughter, stepchild, foster or adopted child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother or half-sister. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with them for legal adoption. They can also include grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
  • The child must have not provided more than half of their own support for the year.
  • The taxpayer must claim the child as their dependent on their federal tax return.
  • The child cannot file a tax return for the same year with the status married filing jointly, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.
  • The child must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a U.S. resident alien.
  • In most cases, the child must have lived with the taxpayer for more than half of 2019.
  • The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant tool Is My Child a Qualifying Child for the Child Tax Credit? helps taxpayers determine if a child qualifies for this credit.
  • In some cases, a taxpayer qualifies and gets less than the full credit. These taxpayers must have earned income of at least $2,500 to  receive a refund, even if they owe no tax, with the additional child tax credit.
  • The credit begins to phase out at $200,000 of modified adjusted gross income. This amount is $400,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • Taxpayers can use the worksheet on page 6 of Publication 972, Child Tax Credit (PDF), to determine if they can claim this credit.

Taxpayers whose dependent does not qualify for this credit might be able to the claim the credit for other dependents.

Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips