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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 8839
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP36b0d5df

taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP08880677
When To Take the Credit or Exclusion(p2)

rule
When you can take the adoption credit or exclusion depends on whether the eligible child is a citizen or resident of the United States (including U.S. possessions) at the time the adoption effort began.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP33e16f44
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP6e0bce08
Child who is a U.S. citizen or resident.(p3)
rule
If the eligible child is a U.S. citizen or resident, you can take the adoption credit or exclusion even if the adoption never became final. Take the credit or exclusion as shown in the following tables.
IF you pay
qualifying expenses in...
 THEN take the credit in...
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year after the year
 of the payment.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption
 becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.
IF your employer pays for qualifying expenses under an adoption assistance program in... THEN take the
 exclusion in....
Any year The year of the payment.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP5d0dd9fb
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP4baebc54
Children with special needs.
(p3)
spacer

If you adopt a child with special needs you may be able to exclude up to $13,170 and claim a credit for an additional $13,170 (minus any qualified adoption expenses claimed for the same child in a prior year) even if you or your employer did not pay any qualified adoption expenses. See the instructions for line 1, column (d), on page 6 for more information.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP0ab3fe22
taxmap/instr2/i8839-003.htm#TXMP43908560
Foreign child.(p3)
rule
If the eligible child is not a U.S. citizen or resident, you cannot take the adoption credit or exclusion unless the adoption becomes final. Take the credit or exclusion as shown on the following tables.
IF you pay
qualifying expenses in...
 THEN take the credit in...
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption
 becomes final.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption
 becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.
IF your employer pays for qualifying expenses under an adoption assistance program in... THEN take the
 exclusion in....
Any year before the year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption
 becomes final.
The year the adoption becomes final The year the adoption
 becomes final.
Any year after the year the adoption becomes final The year of the payment.
If your employer makes adoption assistance payments in a year before the adoption of a foreign child is final, you must include the payments in your income in the year of the payment. Then, on your return for the year the adoption becomes final, you can make an adjustment to take the exclusion.
caution
Your employer is not required to withhold income tax on payments for qualifying expenses under an adoption assistance program. If you must include the payments in income in the year paid because your adoption of a foreign child is not final, your withholding may not be enough to cover the tax on those payments. You may need to give your employer a new Form W-4 to adjust your withholding or make estimated tax payments to avoid a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax.