Started in 1997 and into 2009, the adoption tax credit was nonrefundable. This essentially meant that the amounts could not apply to existing current liabilities, but it was able to carry forward. In 2010 and 2011, however, this credit was refundable. In 2012 and into the future, this credit will continue to be nonrefundable and the maximum amount permitted per child is $12,650. In 2013, this amount will increase to $13,360 per child.
There are some catches with this tax credit. If combined income levels are beyond $229,710, parents are excluded from applying for this credit. In fact, this credit begins to decrease and be phased out for gross income that begins to exceed $189,710. In order for taxpayers to qualify for the credit, they must file as single, head of household, qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child or married and filing jointly. This credit is not available for those who are married but file separately.
The expenses that may be deducted include necessary and ordinary expenses, such as meals, travel, attorney fees, court costs, adoption fees, re-adoption fees, etc. The IRS will not permit reimbursed fees to be claimed, which includes local agencies, state or federal, surrogate arrangement fees, adoption of a spouse’s child or gifts, which is customary for some foreign adoptions.
The adoption credit is tricky. The exclusion is available, as is the tax credit. The adoption exclusion permits parents to deduct actual expenses from their gross income, helping to reduce their taxable income. The credit itself reduces taxpayers’ liability. However, both options are subject to the dollar and income limitations and restrictions, as imposed by the IRS.
Special needs children may allow parents to qualify for the full credit, without the hassle of incurring all required expenses. This is a benefit of adopting a hard-to-place special needs child. In order for a child to be deemed “special needs,” the state must offer a certification that this is in fact true and an accurate diagnosis. The child must also be a U.S. citizen with proper documentation, especially in the event of an IRS audit.
In order to claim the credit, a copy of the adoption decree should be attached to the tax return. IRS Form 8839 must be completed to obtain the credit. Parents should also note that the IRS has a higher likelihood of auditing receipts and documentation.
Heart to Heart is a Utah adoption agency that specializes in private adoption. They recommend that people confer with a tax specialist about the IRS regulations pertaining to tax credits and write-offs related to adoption expenses.