The adoption tax credit lets families who were in the adoption process during 2022 claim up to $14,890 in eligible adoption expenses for each eligible child. Taxpayers can apply the credit to international, domestic, private, and public foster care adoptions.

Things to know about claiming the credit:

  • To claim the adoption credit, taxpayers complete Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, and attach it to their tax return. They use this form to figure out how much credit they can claim.
  • There are income limits that affect the amount of the credit.
  • The adoption tax credit is non-refundable. It will reduce a tax bill but won’t result in a refund, even when the amount of credit is greater than the tax bill. However, a taxpayer can carry their leftover credit forward and apply it to future tax returns for up to five years.

Who is considered an eligible child
An eligible child is an individual who is under the age of 18 or is physically or mentally incapable of caring for themself.

Qualified expenses
Qualified adoption expenses include such things as:

  • Adoption fees
  • Court costs and legal fees
  • Adoption-related travel expenses like meals and lodging
  • Other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child

Expenses may be deductible even if the taxpayer pays them before an eligible child is identified. For example, some future adoptive parents pay for a home study at the beginning of the adoption process. These parents can claim the fees as qualified adoption expenses.

Qualified adoption expenses do not include expenses that a taxpayer pays to adopt their spouse’s child. They may, however, include adoption expenses paid by a registered domestic partner if that partner lives in a state that allows a same-sex second parent or co-parent to adopt their partner’s child.

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