Understanding the Child Tax Credit

child tax credit

The child tax credit is an opportunity for parents or legal guardians to claim a credit against their tax burden of “as much as $1,000 per qualifying child” per the IRS.

Who qualifies for the child tax credit?

In order to qualify, you’ve got to be the lawful parent or legal guardian of a child – and you and your child have to meet all seven requirements to qualify. We’ll go into those requirements in detail here.

What are the requirements for the child tax credit

There are seven (7) categories outlined by the IRS when it comes to qualifying requirements, and they’ve said: “You and/or your child must pass all seven to claim this tax credit.”


The child must be under age 17 for the tax year in which you file.


In order to claim a child for the tax credit, the child has to 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 is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption,” according to the fact sheet posted by the IRS.


You’ll also need to be able to prove that your child relies on you for support and  has not “provided more than half of their own support for the year.” This would likely only become a problem for teens who’re working but also living at home.

Dependent Status

The child must be a dependent that you as the taxpayer claims on your federal tax return.


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

Length of Residency

Usually, the rule is that your child must have lived with the taxpayer for more than half of the tax year for which you’re filing.

Family Income

There are minimum and maximum thresholds that create boundaries for who can qualify. You need to make a minimum of $2500 per year to qualify.

How Do I Apply to Get the Child Tax Credit

If you and your child meet the requirements for qualification for the child tax credit, you’ll need to fill out a special form in addition to your normal tax return. That form is Schedule 8812. You should also double-check the IRS website for the most current forms and instructions.

There are other stipulations not fully detailed in the IRS briefing on the child tax credit. Depending on your level of income, you may or may not qualify for the tax credit should your earnings be above a certain threshold. This is something you should discuss with your tax preparer.

Can Credit Counseling Help With My Taxes?

Certified credit counselors — like those at CreditGUARD — can’t help you file your taxes or address your debt to the IRS. However, speaking to an expert may help you better understand your finances and get control of your budget and debt.

If you’re falling behind on monthly payments or feeling like your credit card debt is bigger than you can resolve on your own, a certified credit counselor may be able to help you to identify available programs and explain the process and procedures for moving forward.

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