How to Claim the Child Tax Credit

Posted by on October 27, 2016
Last modified:
See if you are eligible to claim the child tax credit on your tax return this season.

Parents deserve a bit of a (tax) break now and then.

As a busy parent, filing taxes can be found on the To-Do list between Monday’s soccer practice and Thursday’s parent-teacher conference. Do yourself a favor this year and see if you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit. Tax credits are great because, unlike deductions, they reduce your tax bill dollar-for-dollar. That means, a larger tax refund for you and your family!

What is the Child Tax Credit?

The Child Tax Credit offers a credit of up to $1,000 per child to qualifying taxpayers. It is only available to those who can claim a child as a dependent and meet several other requirements.

There is no limit to the number of children you can claim using the Child Tax Credit, however, claiming lots of kids may subject you to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

Who can claim the Child Tax Credit?

In order to claim the Child Tax Credit, the child in question must:

  • be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, adopted child, brother, sister, or a descendant of any of these
  • have lived with you for more than half the year
  • be under age 17 at the end of the year
  • not have provided more than half of his/her own support
  • be a citizen or resident alien of the United States
  • be younger than you
  • not file a joint return with his/her spouse (though there are exceptions)
  • meet the requirements to be claimed as your dependent
  • be claimed by his/her parents – if claimed by someone else, that person must have a higher AGI than either parent.

Are there income limitations?

The Child Tax Credit phases out beyond certain levels of income:

  • $55,000 for married couples filing separately
  • $75,000 for single, head of household, and qualifying widow(er)
  • $110,000 for married filing jointly

The credit is reduced by $50 for every $1,000 of income beyond these thresholds. Note that they are not indexed for inflation.

How much of the credit is refundable?

Generally if credits and deductions manage to reduce your tax liability to zero, you don’t receive the remaining amount as a refund. In other words, the best you can hope for is to break even – there’s no chance of making a profit from your tax return.

But if the Child Tax Credit helps reduce your tax liability to zero, the remaining amount is refunded to you in the form of the Additional Child Tax Credit. Exactly how much is refundable depends on how many kids you have and how much income you earn.

Taxpayers with one or two children can receive the smaller of:

  • the unused portion of the Child Tax Credit, or
  • 15% of your earned income over $3,000

Taxpayers with three or more children can receive the smaller of:

  • the unused amount or,
  • the larger of either
    • 15% of a person’s earned income over $3,000, or
    • the sum of Social Security and Medicare taxes paid minus the earned income credit

Cross off taxes on your To-Do list today!

Keeping track of all these IRS rules and regulations can get confusing. Thankfully RapidTax keeps things simple. Just enter your information into its online application and it will make sure you claim every cent of the Child Tax Credit that you deserve.

Easy, right? You’re done…just in time to get the kids off the bus!

Do you qualify to claim the child tax credit on your tax return this year?

 

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This entry was posted on at 10:00 am and is filed under Tax Deductions and Credits | Blog.

39 Responses to “How to Claim the Child Tax Credit”

  1. Kahlia Wickey says:

    I was wondering was I eligible to the child tax credit for this year and also have I received this before . If I am not registered can I please apply.

  2. Kahlia Wickey says:

    2014 can I apply

  3. RENE says:

    I WAS WONDERING CAN I PUT DOWN MY IPASS IN MY RETURN? AND ALSO GASS I USE FOR GOING TO WORK?

  4. deedee says:

    is there a delay in tax refunds this year?

  5. CJ says:

    IS THERE A LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN YOU CAN CLAIM ON THIS YEAR TAXES

  6. Antonio says:

    If is claim four qualifying children on my taxes, will I receive child tax credit for all four children? I file joint.

    • Tax Advisor says:

      Hi Antonio,

      If you qualify for all four, then you should receive it. I do suggest checking the IRS website to make sure that you qualify to claim each one for the credit.

  7. chula119 says:

    I have 4 children I went to h&r block and they told me I can only claim 3 is this true or not

  8. Rita says:

    My daughter was 16 till November 21 st 2014. she didn’t qualify for this credit because of one month,that is so wrong!!there should be a cut off.she was 16 the whole year!

  9. Rita says:

    Do not go to H and R Block they raised the prices by 100.00 and didn’t tell there clients.it went from 297.00 last year to 385.00 this year,just wrong!!!

  10. Angel says:

    Can u claim more than 3 children on your taxes

    • Tax Advisor says:

      Hi Angel,

      You can claim all eligible dependents on your tax return. Keep in mind that they must meet ALL eligibility requirements set by the IRS.

      • Vanessa says:

        But don’t you only get $-credit for 3…

        • Hi Vanessa,

          It depends. The child tax credit is nonrefundable so you’ll only be able to get your tax due amount to zero. In order to begin receiving a refund, you’ll need to qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit. These guidelines depend on more factors from your tax situation.

  11. Stephanie O says:

    I have four children that qualify for the child credit, but I am not sure what number to put. It says to add 2 to every child, which would be 8. I am not sure if that’s correct. I make less than $70,000 and single.

    • Tax Advisor says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      When following along with the Personal Allowances Worksheet, you will calculate the maximum amount of allowances you can claim on your W-4 form to abide by IRS standards. Keep in mind that you can always claim less than calculated using that worksheet. Claiming 8 allowances may cause you to have additional tax due to the IRS after filing. Instead, I suggest claiming one allowance for yourself and an additional allowance for each of the dependents you’ll claim on your tax return. This will allow for you to have a bit more in your paychecks while still having a sufficient amount of your income withheld to cove taxes.

  12. Ryan says:

    If neither the mother or father claimed their child in 2014 tax year can they still claim the credit.

    • Tax Advisor says:

      Hi Ryan,

      The person claiming the child tax credit must also be the individual who is claiming the child as a dependent. This is different for the Earned Income Tax Credit and qualifications to claim head of household. These both do not require that the same person be claiming the child as a dependent.

      • Cort says:

        What if neither parent claimed the child throughout the year? Can you still claim the client come tax time?
        Do you have to have made a certain amount throughout the year to be able to claim your child at all?

        • Hi Cort,

          Your W-4 allowances do not determine what you can necessarily claim on your tax return. Ideally, it should reflect your tax return but it is not required that you do so. You can still claim any qualifying dependents that you are entitled to based on IRS rules.

  13. Amy says:

    My ex-husband has 4 children with his current wife, we have 2 children together, in our divorce papers it states he can claim our oldest child who is 16 and I claim our younger child age 15. Both of our daughters live with me 12 months out of the year, but he does pay child support, since he now has 4 kids to claim with his current wife, can I claim BOTH of my children since they have always lived with me, even though the divorce papers say he can claim one of ours? I hope that made sense.. Thank you.

    • Tax Advisor says:

      Hi Amy,

      This a very common situation and it is important for parents to know that custodial parent has the right to claim the child as a dependent. The IRS abides by federal law and not state/county court orders. The custodial parent is the parent whom the child lived with for the majority of nights in the year. If the child lived with both parents for an equal number of nights, then the custodial parent id the one with the higher Adjusted Gross Income. If a parent claims a child solely based on a court order without meeting the IRS requirements to claim the dependent, then the actual custodial parent can dispute that and claim the child instead. Now, it is important to know that the IRS is not responsible for “catching” a non custodial parent. You will need to paper file your return and mail it to the IRS with a cover letter and sufficient documentation to prove that you are the child’s custodial parent. Documentation generally includes school/medical/dental records and other forms in which your address matches the child’s address. Keep in mind that this is a time consuming process since it involves the IRS along with both parties (parents). However, if you are the custodial parent, then it may be worth the time.

  14. Joshua Stacy says:

    Hello my question is, I pay child support for both my boys they both live with there mother (Custodial parent) My ex wife has let me claim at least one but she says she is claiming all 4 of her children which 2 of those 4 are mine.. Does parents that pay child support for there children receive any credit at all?? Or am I just SOL???

    • Hi Joshua,

      Although you pay child support, the IRS rules are rarely impacted by the courts. The IRS looks at several basic tests to determine who can claim the child as a dependent or claim a credit for the care of the child:
      1. Relationship: the person must be your daughter, son, stepdaughter, stepson, foster child, sister, brother, half-sister, half-brother, stepsister, stepbrother, or a descendant of any of these, such as a niece or nephew.

      2. Age: the person must be under the age of 19 on the last day of the year (24 if a student) or permanently disabled (regardless of age).

      3. Support: the person must have have been provided at least half of their support from you for the year. Support includes food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical expenses, recreation, etc…

      4. Residency: the person must have lived with you for more than half the year. The only exception is for temporary absences (ie: the child is away at college for the semester).

      5. Joint Return: the person cannot be filing a joint tax return with their spouse (if your child is married).

      6. Qualifying child of more than one person: if the person could be a qualifying child for more than one person, you must be the person entitled to claim them (see above tests).

      While you cannot deduct child support payments from your taxable income, your spouse also cannot report the payments as taxable income on their tax return. Contrary to popular belief, child support has little effect on taxes.

  15. latrise sharp says:

    Can I claim my 1 year old whos been in my custody since birth without working??
    And is there a way to stop her dad from claiming her I know it sounds petty but I let him claim her last year and he and his mother took the money and I didn’t get 1 penny

    • Hi Latrise,

      You can file a tax return without having any taxable income. Typically, taxpayers will do this so that they can claim tax credits that they are still entitled to. Just be sure to look into which credits you will be claiming. Some DO require that you have some sort of taxable income from the tax year.

      In regards to preventing her father from claiming her, that can get tricky. If he files his tax return first, claiming your daughter as his dependent and it is accepted by the IRS, you will need to paper file your return. The IRS will reject your return and let you know how to proceed. This typically means that you will need to dispute the rejection with proof that you are the child’s custodial parent and meet all tests that the IRS has instated are met. Take a look at our other blog article HERE. It relates more to your second question.

  16. Deanna says:

    I just wanted to know can a older sibling carry a younger sibling with the parents permission, and get a earned income tax credit, if the younger sibling is under the age of 18.

    • Hi Deanna,

      You may be able to claim your sibling as a qualifying dependent if the following IRS requirements are met by you and/or your sibling:
      1. They are not filing a joint return with anyone else.
      2. They are not filing a tax return and claiming a dependent.
      3. Your AGI (adjusted gross income) must be higher than the AGI of the child’s parents (if they are also liable to claim the child).
      4. They are under the age of 19 on the last day of the year, or a full-time student under the age of 24 on the last day of the year, or permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year (regardless of age).
      5. They must have lived with you for more than half of the year.
      6. They cannot have provided more than 50% of their financial support for the year.
      7. They must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year.

      If your sibling qualifies as a dependent, then you are eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit as well IF you qualify based on those separate guidelines as well.

  17. Ashley Sharp-alltus says:

    Hi. I had my son in September can I still claim and get some money back at all? Also if I let his grandmother claim instead will that mess up my taxes for 2017 if I decide to claim him then?

    • Hi Ashley,

      A child must meet all of the following IRS requirements to be considered your qualifying child dependent:
      1. S/he must be your daughter, son, stepdaughter, stepson, foster child, sister, half-sister, brother, half-brother, step brother/sister, or a descendant of any of these (ie: niece or nephew).
      2. S/he must be younger than you.
      3. S/he must be under the age of 19 on the last day of the year OR a full-time student under the age of 24 on the last day of the year OR permanently disabled (regardless of age).
      4. S/he must not have provided more than 50% of their support for the year. Support includes food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical expenses, recreational expenses, etc.
      5. S/he must have lived with you for more than half of the year. The only exception is for temporary absences (ie: school, vacation, etc.).
      6. S/he must not file a joint tax return for the year (if they are married).
      7. You must be the person entitled to claim the child if more than one person has the option to do so.

      If you meet the above requirements, then you can claim your child. Only one person per year can claim a child on their return. If his grandmother claims him, then she will need to do so for the entirety of the year. This will not prevent you from claiming him on your 2017 tax return next year as long as you meet the qualifications to do so.

  18. Bonny says:

    If I have a child I am claiming on my taxes can I still put 1 on part B?

    • Hi Bonny,

      The top portion of the W-4 form will not be submitted or viewed by the IRS so you have a bit of leeway when completing it. Since the actual amount of tax you owe for the year remains consistent, the W-4 form only determines when you will pay the tax; after filing or throughout the year. The more allowances you claim, the less income is withheld from your paychecks throughout the year. This means more take home pay with the probability higher that you will owe the IRS after filing. The less allowances you claim, the more income is withheld from your paychecks throughout the year. This will consist of less take home pay but a higher chance of being issued a refund after filing. You owe the IRS if too little is withheld throughout the year. You are issued a refund if too much is withheld.

      All of that being said, you can adjust your W-4 whenever you see it necessary. For example, if you are currently claiming 3 allowances and feel that too much is being withheld, then adjust your W-4 to claim 4 allowances.

  19. Perla says:

    Can my husband claim our 2 children that live in Mexico with me because of my immigration paper work? They are U.S. citizens.

    • Hi Perla,

      Your husband can claim your children as qualifying children dependents if all of the following IRS requirements are met:

      1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.

      2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a full-time student and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.

      3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year (except for temporary absences such as for school)

      4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her support for the year.

      5. The child is not filing a joint return for the year (unless that return is filed only as a claim for refund).

      6. If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, you must be the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.

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