New 2/14/12

The Child Tax Credit is available to eligible taxpayers with qualifying children under age 17.


The Child Tax Credit can reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child.


A qualifying child satisfies seven tests:

  1. age,
  2. relationship,
  3. support,
  4. dependent,
  5. joint return,
  6. citizenship, and
  7. residence.

Age test

A child must have been under age 17 (age 16 or younger) at the end of 2011.

Relationship test

Tthe child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of these individuals, which includes your grandchild, niece or nephew.

An adopted child (lawfully placed with you for legal adoption) is always treated as your own child.

Support test

The child must NOT have provided more than half their own support.

Dependent test

You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.

Joint return test

The qualifying child can NOT file a joint return for the year (or files it only as a claim for refund).

Citizenship test

The child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien.

Residence test

The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year. There are some exceptions to the residence test, found in IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.


The child tax credit is phased out and limited if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is above a certain amount, which varies by filing status (2011):

  • married/joint return: the phase-out begins at $110,000
  • married/separate return: the phase-out begins at $55,000
  • All other taxpayers: the phase-out begins at $75,000

The Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax and any alternative minimum tax you owe.

Additional Child Tax Credit

If the Child Tax Credit is greater than the income tax you owe, you may be able to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.

For more information

See IRS Publication 972, available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) on the IRS website to determine if you?re eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The ITA is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.