The Adoption Tax Credit [2016]


The 2016 Adoption Tax Credit1

If you adopted a child in 2016, you may be eligible for an adoption tax credit of up to $13,460.00 for each child you adopted.  The tax credit can be used to reduce the amount you owe in federal income taxes. 


  • Taxpayers can qualify for the credit two ways:

    (1)   The taxpayer adopted a child with special needs.

    • Children who are adopted out of foster care and who receive adoption assistance benefits  (such as  AAP payments) are considered children with special needs. 


  •  (2) The taxpayer adopted a child and incurred qualifying expense

       directly related to the adoption.

    • Qualifying expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, such as court costs, attorney fees, and travel expenses directly related to the adoption of the child.
  • Income Eligibility Criteria:

 (1)   Families with a federal modified adjusted gross income

        (modified AGI) of greater than $241.920.00  will not qualify

        for the Adoption Tax Credit. 

 (2)   Families with a modified AGI between $201,920.00 and

        $241,920.00 will not qualify for  the  full credit  but will be  

        eligible for a smaller amount of credit, which is reduced as

        income goes up.


  • Assuming they meet income eligibility requirements, taxpayers who adopted a special needs child are entitled to claim the full amount of the adoption credit without regard to any adoption-related expenses.

  • Assuming they meet income eligibility requirements, taxpayers who adopted a child and who had qualifying adoption-related expenses can be credited for the amount that was spent on qualifying adoption-related expenses, up to the maximum amount of the credit.


  • Taxpayers who adopt a child with special needs can claim the credit in the year the adoption became final.

  • For taxpayers claiming the credit based on qualifying adoption-related expenses, the year in which the credit can be taken will depend on when the expenses were incurred.

  • Taxpayers who claim the credit for 2016 will use what they can to offset any tax liability for 2016. Any remaining amount of the credit not used in 2016 can be carried forward for up to five additional years. So, even if you have no tax liability for 2016, claiming the credit could help offset future tax liability.

  • To claim the credit taxpayers must attach a copy of Form 8839 to their tax return.

  • Taxpayers should keep copies of supporting documentation such as the Adoption Order and AAP Agreement (or proof of qualifying adoption-related expenses) but these documents do not need to be included when filing.


  • For more information, please contact a tax attorney, tax preparer, accountant, or the IRS (1-800-829-1040;

  • Taxpayers can ask questions about how the tax law applies to their individual tax return by meeting with an IRS representative in person at their local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). The number for the Los Angeles TAC is (213) 576-3009. For a list of TACs throughout the United States see To find that TAC closeset to you, see or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. 


    1. This flyer was last updated February 2016.

    The information contained in this handout on the Adoption Tax Credit is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice.  Readers should consult a tax attorney, accountant, tax preparer or other tax expert regarding their particular situation and tax return.  This handout is not intended to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of avaoiding IRS penalties.