adoption tax credit

Author: Christina Pomoni

The decision to adopt is one of the most exciting moments in one’s life. Yet, financing an adoption is an overwhelming stress for most adoptive families. The costs involved in the adoption process can be devastating, and prospective adoptive parents may get discouraged.

The Adoption Tax Credit is one of the valuable funding options available to prospective adoptive families, but also one of the most intricate tax law provisions. Received by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Adoption Tax Credit asserts that the adoption expenses are subtracted against the yearly tax liability. However, adoptive families need to learn what the tax credit covers, what the directly related adoption expenses are, who qualifies, and how the provision works.

The tax credit is applicable both to domestic and international adoptions. For a domestic adoption, adoptive families can claim the credit regardless if the adoption process is not finalized. Instead, for an international adoption, adoptive families cannot apply for the credit until the adoption process is finalized. In case the adoption process of an international adoption is interrupted, families may claim the adoption expenses to the maximum amount that may be credited on a second adoption.

Eligibility requirements of the adoption tax credit require that adoptive families have adopted an eligible child and that they have paid qualified expenses on their own. The tax credit defines as eligible any child younger than 17 or any child who is US citizen, or resident alien, mentally and physically incapable of taking care of oneself.

If the adopted child is a US citizen or resident alien, adoptive parents collect the credit for qualified expenses based on when the adoption was finalized. For example, for expenses paid before the adoption is finalized, tax credit is collected the next year; for expenses paid the same year that the adoption is finalized, tax credit is collected the same year; for expenses paid after the adoption is finalized, tax credit is paid the year the expenses are made.

If the adopted child is a foreigner, adoptive parents collect the credit for qualified expenses the same year that the adoption is finalized. Also, for any expenses made after the finalization of the adoption, adoptive families are eligible for collecting tax credit the same year that they made the expenses.

The IRS (Publication 968) defines as directly related adoption expenses the adoption fees, legal fees, transportation fees, meals, and accommodation expenses provided they are all “reasonable and necessary." Prospective adoptive parents should revise the IRS guidelines very carefully with a tax expert so that they are sure about the expenses they are eligible to claim. For example, expenses related to surrogate families are not included in the qualified expenses for the tax credit. Also, expenses that are already reimbursed by private programs such as employee benefits are not qualified either.

Currently, the States of Arizona, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin exercise the Adoption Tax Credit providing a full credit of $12,150 for offsetting adoption expenses. Adoptive families that have been reimbursed by the tax credit provision consider that is more valuable than plain tax reduction because qualified adoption expenses are subtracted on a dollar to dollar basis. Hence, if someone has a tax liability of $8,000 and has incurred adoption expenses of $5,000, tax liability will be reduced to $3,000. In case the tax liability is lesser amount than the tax credit, the difference is carried forward for up to five years.

Generally, prospective adoptive parents should consult tax experts in order to clarify their eligibility, to investigate if their State offers the Adoption Tax Credit, and overall, to ensure that all their claims are appropriately filed.

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About the Author:

I work as a financial and investment advisor but my passion is writing, music and photography. Writing mostly about finance, business and music, being an amateur photographer and a professional dj, I am inspired from life.

Being a strong advocate of simplicity in life, I love my family, my partner and all the people that have stood by me with or without knowing. And I hope that someday, human nature will cease to be greedy and demanding realizing that the more we have the more we want and the more we satisfy our needs the more needs we create. And this is so needless after all.

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