Close this search box.
Close this search box.
A photo representing adoption. A woman's hand and a child's hand clasp a cutout figure depicting a family on a light-colored background - Financial/Adoption

The Financial Side of Adoption: How the U.S. Adoption Tax Credit Can Help

Embarking on an adoption journey is a beautiful decision, bringing the joy of parenthood and a loving home to a child in need. However, the associated costs can be a hurdle. The U.S. government’s adoption tax credit steps in to offer a helping hand, easing the financial burden for adoptive families. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of the credit, making it easier for you to navigate its benefits.

What is the Adoption Tax Credit?

Imagine a tax credit that reduces your tax bill – that’s the magic of the adoption credit! This federal program is a non-refundable credit that helps offset adoption-related expenses. Think of it as a reimbursement for adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, travel expenses (for relevant situations), and other essential costs directly linked to legally adopting an eligible child. By lowering your tax liability, the credit makes adoption financially more feasible for many families.

Are You Eligible?

Qualifying for the adoption credit involves meeting specific criteria. First, the adopted child must be considered “eligible.” This applies to children under 18 or those who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care. The good news is that the credit applies to both domestic and international adoptions, although timing and eligibility details may differ slightly.

For domestic adoptions, you can claim the credit for qualified expenses paid even before the adoption is finalized. On the other hand, for international adoptions, you can claim the credit only in the year the adoption becomes official.

Maximizing Your Credit: Understanding the Limits

For tax year 2024, the adoption credit boasts a maximum of $16,810 per child. This amount is subject to yearly adjustments based on inflation. It’s crucial to remember that the credit is non-refundable. It can only reduce your tax liability to zero. Any remaining credit amount won’t be issued as a refund.

The credit and employer reimbursement exclusion (explained later) begin to phase out in 2024 for taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeding $252,150. This benefit completely disappears for those with a MAGI exceeding $292,150. These thresholds are adjusted annually for inflation. Notably, unlike most tax benefits with varying phase-out rules based on filing status, the adoption credit and employer-provided adoption benefits have a single phase-out level for all filing statuses.

The Credit and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT):

The AMT is a tax system designed to ensure high-income earners who use the regular tax system pay their fair share. Unlike some other tax credits, the adoption credit stands out – it can be used to offset both your regular tax liability and AMT. This makes the credit even more valuable for taxpayers subject to AMT, offering significant tax relief.

Unused Credit: Don’t Lose Out on Carryover Benefits!

If the adoption credit you qualify for exceeds your tax liability for the year, you don’t lose out! The excess credit can be carried forward to the next tax year and added to any adoption credit you qualify for in that year. There’s a catch, though – carryover isn’t allowed for the portion of the credit lost due to the AGI phase-out. Additionally, no adoption credit carryover is allowed beyond the fifth tax year following the year the credit originated.

Here’s some good news: Credit amounts carried forward from a previous tax year are exempt from income phase-out rules in subsequent years. However, the carryforward amount remains subject to the credit’s yearly dollar cap and the limitation that the claimed credit cannot exceed your tax liability for that year.

Employer-Provided Adoption Assistance:

Some employers offer adoption assistance as a benefit. The amount of employer-provided adoption assistance that can be excluded from your gross income for adoption purposes aligns with the credit limit. This exclusion phases out similarly to the credit. It’s important to note that you cannot claim a credit for any employer-reimbursed adoption expense.

What About Unsuccessful Adoptions?

Even if an adoption attempt falls through, there’s a silver lining. Qualified adoption expenses paid or incurred during an unsuccessful attempt to adopt an eligible U.S. child before successfully finalizing the adoption of another eligible child can still qualify for the credit. Unsuccessful and successful adoptions are considered one effort per child for credit limit purposes. Even expenses from an unsuccessful attempt to adopt a U.S. child, with no subsequent successful adoption, are eligible for the credit.

The Adoptive Child ID Number: A Filing Requirement

If known, you must include the adopted child’s name, age, and taxpayer identification number (TIN) on your tax return. Prospective adoptive parents who meet specific requirements and have a child placed in their home by an “authorized placement agency” can apply for a temporary (two-year) adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) for the child (unless the child is an alien eligible to get an ITIN) to satisfy filing requirements.

Embracing Adoption with Financial Support:

The adoption credit recognizes the immense love and commitment involved in adopting a child. Understanding this credit empowers you to navigate the financial aspects of adoption with greater confidence. By potentially reducing your tax burden, the credit makes the dream of building a family through adoption more attainable for many. If you have further questions about the applicability of this credit or income exclusion to your specific circumstances, consulting with a tax professional is highly recommended.

JS Morlu LLC is a top-tier accounting firm based in Woodbridge, Virginia, with a team of highly experienced and qualified CPAs and business advisors. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive accounting, tax, and business advisory services to clients throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and the surrounding regions. With over a decade of experience, we have cultivated a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and aspirations. We recognize that our clients seek more than just value-added accounting services; they seek a trusted partner who can guide them towards achieving their business goals and personal financial well-being.
Talk to us || What our clients says about us