Publication 972 - Introductory Material

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Photographs of missing children. The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.


The purpose of this publication is:

  1. To figure the child tax credit you claim on Form 1040, line 52; Form 1040A, line 35; or Form 1040NR, line 49; and

  2. To figure the amount of earned income you enter on line 4a of Schedule 8812 (Form 1040A or 1040), Child Tax Credit.

This publication is intended primarily for individuals sent here by the instructions to Forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040NR, or Schedule 8812. Even if you were not sent here by the instructions to one of the forms or the schedule, you can still choose to use this publication to figure your credit. However, most individuals can use a simpler worksheet in their tax form instructions.

If you were sent here from your Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions.   Complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet , later in this publication.

If you were sent here from your Schedule 8812 instructions.   Complete the 1040 and 1040NR Filers — Earned Income Worksheet , later in this publication.

If you have not read your Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions.   Read the explanation of who must use this publication next. If you find that you are not required to use this publication to figure your child tax credit, you can use the simpler worksheet in the Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions to figure your credit.

Who must use this publication.    If you answer “Yes” to either of the following questions, you must use this publication to figure your child tax credit.
  1. Are you excluding income from Puerto Rico or filing any of the following forms?

    1. Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (relating to foreign earned income).

    2. Form 4563 (exclusion of income for residents of American Samoa).

  2. Are you claiming any of the following credits?

    1. Mortgage interest credit, Form 8396.

    2. Adoption credit, Form 8839.

    3. Residential energy efficient property credit, Form 5695, Part I.

    4. District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit, Form 8859.

Comments and suggestions.    We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

  You can send us comments from Click on “More Information” and then on “Give us feedback.

  Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service 
Tax Forms and Publications 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

  We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.

  Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Ordering forms and publications.    Visit to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to to order forms or call 1-800-829-3676 to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.

Tax questions.    If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to the above address.

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