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How to Claim a Child Tax Credit

Don't pay more taxes than you have to. Maximize your return with a tax credit for a dependent child.


  • Step 1: Calculate your income as stated on your tax forms to determine limitations of the credit. If you are married filing jointly, limitations of credit begin at $110,000. Married filing separately begins at $55,000, and all others begin at $75,000.
  • TIP: There are exceptions to the residency rule. You can find more information in IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit online or at your local tax office.
  • Step 2: Determine the amount of income tax you owe. If your income tax owed is less than the child tax credit, you may qualify for the additional tax credit.
  • TIP: For any tax questions, call your local IRS office or go to the IRS website at
  • FACT: The Stamp Act of 1765 was the first tax directly enforced on the American colonies by the English Parliament.
  • Step 3: File all tax forms online or via paper forms after checking that you meet each eligibility requirement for the child tax credit.
  • Step 4: Determine your child's residency to qualify for the tax credit. A dependent must have lived in your home for more than half of the tax year.
  • Step 5: Prove that your child is a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • Step 6: Determine the relationship between yourself and the dependent. If your child is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of these, including adopted children, they are eligible.
  • TIP: Children must meet all eligibility requirements in steps one through six to qualify for the child tax credit.
  • Step 7: Provide proof of support. Your child must not provide more than half of their own financial support for you to claim the tax credit.
  • TIP: If you receive child support, you may wish to call the IRS for clarification.
  • Step 8: Claim the child as your dependent on all tax forms. No one else may claim your child as a dependent to qualify.
  • Step 9: Determine your child's eligibility by their age. If your child is under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year, you may be eligible for a $1,000 child tax credit.

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