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Publication 972 - Main Content


Child Tax Credit

This credit is for people who have a qualifying child as defined later. It is in addition to the credit for child and dependent care expenses (on Form 1040, line 49; Form 1040A, line 31; or Form 1040NR, line 47) and the earned income credit (on Form 1040, line 66a; or Form 1040A, line 42a).

The maximum amount you can claim for the credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child.

Qualifying Child

A qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit is a child who:

  1. Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew),

  2. Was under age 17 at the end of 2016,

  3. Did not provide over half of his or her own support for 2016,

  4. Lived with you for more than half of 2016 (see Exceptions to time lived with you , later),

  5. Is claimed as a dependent on your return,

  6. Does not file a joint return for the year (or files it only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid), and

  7. Was a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a U.S. resident alien. For more information, see Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. If the child was adopted, see Adopted child , later.

For each qualifying child, you must either check the box on Form 1040 or Form 1040A, line 6c, column (4); or Form 1040NR, line 7c, column (4).

Example 1.

Your son turned 17 on December 30, 2016. He is a citizen of the United States and you claimed him as a dependent on your return. He is not a qualifying child for the child tax credit because he was not under age 17 at the end of 2016.

Example 2.

Your 10-year-old nephew lives in Mexico and qualifies as your dependent. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien, he is not a qualifying child for the child tax credit.

Filers who have certain child dependents with an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).   If you are claiming a child tax credit or additional child tax credit for a child identified on your tax return with an ITIN, you must complete Part I of Schedule 8812 (Form 1040A or 1040). An ITIN is for tax use only and may expire under certain conditions. See the Instructions for Form W-7 for details.

  Although a child may be your dependent, you may claim a child tax credit or additional child tax credit only for a dependent who is a citizen, national, or resident of the United States. To be treated as a resident of the United States, a child generally will need to meet the requirements of the substantial presence test. For more information about the substantial presence test, see Pub. 519.

Adopted child.    An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

  If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your adopted child lived with you all year as a member of your household in 2016, that child meets condition (7) above to be a qualifying child for the child tax credit.

Exceptions to time lived with you.    A child is considered to have lived with you for more than half of 2016 if the child was born or died in 2016 and your home was this child's home for more than half the time he or she was alive. Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the child lived with you.

  There are also exceptions for kidnapped children and children of divorced or separated parents. For details, see the instructions for line 6c in either the Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions.

Qualifying child of more than one person.    A special rule applies if your qualifying child is the qualifying child of more than one person. For details, see the instructions for line 6c in either the Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions.

Limits on the Credit

You must reduce the maximum credit amount of $1,000 for each child if either (1) or (2) applies.

  1. The amount on Form 1040, line 47; Form 1040A, line 30; or Form 1040NR, line 45, is less than the credit. If this amount is zero, you cannot take this credit because there is no tax to reduce. But you may be able to take the additional child tax credit. See Additional Child Tax Credit , later.

  2. Your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than the amount shown below for your filing status.

    1. Married filing jointly – $110,000.

    2. Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) – $75,000.

    3. Married filing separately – $55,000.

Modified AGI.    For purposes of the child tax credit, your modified AGI is your AGI plus the following amounts that may apply to you.
  • Any amount excluded from income because of the exclusion of income from Puerto Rico. On the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 38, enter the amount excluded and identify it as “EPRI.” Also attach a copy of any Form(s) 499R-2/W-2PR to your return.

  • Any amount on line 45 or line 50 of Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income.

  • Any amount on line 18 of Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

  • Any amount on line 15 of Form 4563, Exclusion of Income for Bona Fide Residents of American Samoa.

  If you do not have any of the above, your modified AGI is the same as your AGI.

AGI.    Your AGI is the amount on Form 1040, line 38; Form 1040A, line 22; or Form 1040NR, line 37.

Claiming the Credit

To claim the child tax credit, you must file Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR. You cannot claim the child tax credit on Form 1040EZ or Form 1040NR-EZ. You must provide the name and identification number (usually a social security number) on your tax return for each qualifying child.

Taxpayer identification number needed by due date of return. If you do not have a social security number (SSN) or IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) by the due date of your 2016 return (including extensions), you cannot claim the child tax credit or the additional child tax credit on either your original or an amended 2016 return, even if you later get an SSN or ITIN. Also, neither credit is allowed on either your original or an amended 2016 return for a child who does not have an SSN, ITIN, or IRS adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) by the due date of your return (including extensions), even if that child later gets one of those numbers.

If you apply for an ATIN or ITIN on or before the due date of your 2016 return (including extensions) and the IRS issues you an ATIN or ITIN as a result of the application, the IRS will consider your ATIN or ITIN as issued on or before the due date of your return.

Earned Income

You will need to figure your earned income using one of the worksheets that appear later in this publication if you are completing the Line 11 Worksheet , later, or Schedule 8812. Form 1040 or Form 1040NR filers, use the 1040 and 1040NR Filers —Earned Income Worksheet , later, to figure your earned income. Form 1040A filers, use the 1040A Filers —Earned Income Worksheet , later.

For this purpose, earned income includes only:

  • Taxable earned income, and

  • Nontaxable combat pay.

Additional Child Tax Credit

This credit is for certain individuals who get less than the full amount of the child tax credit. The additional child tax credit may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.

Foreign earned income.    If you file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (both relating to foreign earned income), you cannot claim the additional child tax credit.

How to claim the additional child tax credit.    To claim the additional child tax credit, follow the steps below.
  1. Make sure you figured the amount, if any, of your child tax credit.

  2. If you answered “Yes” on line 9 or line 10 of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in the Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions (or on line 13 of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in this publication), use Parts II–IV of Schedule 8812 to see if you can take the additional child tax credit.

  3. If you have an additional child tax credit on line 13 of Schedule 8812, carry it to Form 1040, line 67; Form 1040A, line 43; or Form 1040NR, line 64.

Taxpayer identification number needed by due date of return. If you do not have a social security number (SSN) or IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) by the due date of your 2016 return (including extensions), you cannot claim the child tax credit or the additional child tax credit on either your original or an amended 2016 return, even if you later get an SSN or ITIN. Also, neither credit is allowed on either your original or an amended 2016 return for a child who does not have an SSN, ITIN, or IRS adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) by the due date of your return (including extensions), even if that child later gets one of those numbers.

If you apply for an ATIN or ITIN on or before the due date of your 2016 return (including extensions) and the IRS issues you an ATIN or ITIN as a result of the application, the IRS will consider your ATIN or ITIN as issued on or before the due date of your return.

Paperwork Reduction Act Notice

We ask for the information on the worksheets in this publication to carry out the Internal Revenue laws of the United States. You are required to give us the information if requested. We need it to ensure that you are complying with these laws and to allow us to figure and collect the right amount of tax.

You are not required to provide the information requested on a form (or worksheet in this publication) that is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act unless the form (or publication) displays a valid OMB control number. Books or records relating to a form, its instructions, or this publication must be retained as long as their contents may become material in the administration of any Internal Revenue law. Generally, tax returns and return information are confidential, as required by section 6103.

The average time and expenses required to complete these worksheets will vary depending on individual circumstances. For the estimated averages, see the instructions for your income tax return.

If you have suggestions for making these worksheets simpler, we would be happy to hear from you. See Comments and suggestions , earlier.


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