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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 8839
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP646c455f

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.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 (domestic adoption).
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP41d90b26
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP08c174c7
Child who is a U.S. citizen or resident (U.S. child).(p2)
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.
Domestic Adoption
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/i8839-004.htm#TXMP078b94da
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP4baebc54
Children with special needs.
(p3)
spacer

If you adopt a U.S. child with special needs, you may be able to exclude up to $13,360 and claim a credit for additional expenses up to $13,360 (minus any qualified adoption expenses claimed for the same child in a prior year). The exclusion may be available, even if you or your employer did not pay any qualified adoption expenses, provided the employer has a written qualified adoption assistance program. See the instructions for line 1, column (d), later, for more information.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP4fa0ea61
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP43908560
Foreign child.(p3)
rule
If the eligible child is a foreign child, you cannot take the adoption credit or exclusion unless the adoption becomes final. A child is a foreign child if he or she was not a citizen or resident of the United States (including U.S. possessions) at the time the adoption effort began. Take the credit or exclusion as shown on the following tables.
Foreign Adoption
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.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP126371fc

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP1fd955ff
Specific Instructions(p3)

rule
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP65fa801b

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP39db4634
Part I—Information About Your Eligible Child or Children
Line 1(p3)

rule
Complete all columns that apply to the eligible child you adopted or tried to adopt and attach the appropriate documentation. If you do not give correct or complete information and attach the appropriate documentation, your credit and any exclusion may be disallowed.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP121a7223
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP52df0d96
Documentation requirements.(p3)
rule
You must provide at least one of the documents described below to support your claim for each eligible child on line 1. Attach the documents to Form 8839 and file with your income tax return. Copies are acceptable unless otherwise specified. You may redact sensitive personal information from an adoption order or decree or from a special needs determination; however, the IRS may require you to provide an unredacted copy at a later date.
Be sure to write your name and social security number on each document. Because of these documentation requirements, you must file your income tax return and Form 8839 by paper only. You cannot file electronically.
After your return is received by the IRS, you may be asked to substantiate any qualified adoption expenses you paid.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP556d93a9
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP7132f762
Domestic adoptions that have not been finalized.
(p3)
spacer

For a domestic adoption of a U.S. child that was not finalized in 2011 or earlier, attach one or more of the following documents.
  1. An adoption taxpayer identification number, obtained by the taxpayer for the child, included on the taxpayer’s income tax return (instead of attaching a document).
  2. A home study completed by an authorized placement agency.
  3. A placement agreement with an authorized placement agency.
  4. A document signed by a hospital official authorizing the release of a newborn child from the hospital to the taxpayer for legal adoption.
  5. A court document (a copy showing official seal), ordering or approving the placement of a child with the taxpayer for legal adoption.
  6. An original affidavit or notarized statement signed under penalties of perjury from an adoption attorney, government official, or other authorized person, stating that the signer:
    1. Placed or is placing a child with the taxpayer for legal adoption, or
    2. Is facilitating the adoption process for the taxpayer in an official capacity, with a description of the actions taken to facilitate the process.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP4fa1b736
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP0ff43d82
Domestic and foreign adoptions that have been finalized.
(p3)
spacer

For domestic adoptions finalized in 2011 or before, and foreign adoptions finalized in 2011, check the box in column (g) and attach one or more of the following documents:
  1. For a domestic or foreign adoption finalized in the United States, the adoption order or decree (a copy showing official seal).
  2. For an adoption governed by the Hague Convention and finalized in another country:
    1. The Hague Adoption Certificate (Immigrating Child),
    2. The IH-3 visa, or
    3. A foreign adoption decree (a copy showing official seal) translated into English.
  3. For a foreign adoption from a country that is not party to the Hague Convention:
    1. A foreign adoption decree (a copy showing official seal) translated into English or
    2. An IR-2 or IR-3 visa.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP6f4b50f9
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP04f7c794
Adoption of a U.S. child with special needs.
(p3)
spacer

For adoption of a child with special needs, in addition to the requirements above, you must check the box in column (d) and attach a copy of the state determination of special needs to your income tax return.
For these purposes, an order or decree (a copy showing official seal) must include information establishing that the taxpayer's adoption of the eligible child has been finalized and the date it was finalized. A special needs determination must include information establishing that the state has made a determination of special needs for the eligible child.
For more information and examples on a state determination of special needs, see frequently asked questions on adoption benefits at www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=231663,00.html.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#f5300201

Table 1. List of Documents That Need To Be Attached To Your Return If You Are Claiming Adoption Credit

IF...AND...THEN attach a copy of
Domestic AdoptionIn-ProcessOne or more of the following documents:
  A home study completed by an authorized placement agency.
  A placement agreement with an authorized placement agency.
  A document signed by a hospital official authorizing the release of a newborn child from the hospital to you for legal adoption.
  A court document ordering or approving the placement of a child with you for legal adoption.
  An original affidavit or notarized statement signed under penalties of perjury from an adoption attorney, government official, or other authorized person, stating that the signer:
   1.Placed or is placing a child with you for legal adoption, or
   2.Is facilitating the adoption process for you in an official capacity, with a description of the actions taken to facilitate the process.
Domestic AdoptionFinalThe adoption certificate, order judgement, or decree clearly establishing that the adoption is final. Showing the names of the adoptive child and parent (yourself) and signed and dated by a representative of a state or county court, showing the official seal.
Foreign AdoptionIn-ProcessThe adoption credit cannot be claimed.
Foreign Adoption (from a country governed by the Hague Convention)FinalOne or more of the following documents:
  The Hague Adoption Certificate (Immigrating Child)
  The IH-3 visa, or
  A foreign adoption decree translated into English
Foreign Adoption (from a country that is not party to the Hague Convention)FinalOne or more of the following documents:
  A foreign adoption decree translated into English, or
  An IR-2 or IR-3 visa.
Domestic Adoption (special needs child)FinalThe following documents:
  An adoption certificate, report or final decree clearly establishing that the adoption is final, showing the names of the adoptive child and parent (yourself) and signed and dated by a representative of the state court, and
  A copy of the state's determination of special needs which may include, but is not limited to the following:
   1.A signed adoption assistance or subsidy agreement issued by the state
   2.Certification from the state or a county welfare agency verifying that the child is approved to receive adoption assistance
   3.Certification from the state or a county welfare agency verifying that the child has special needs
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP75752f20

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP18c6a813
Attempted Adoptions of U.S. Children(p4)

rule
If you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible U.S. child, combine the amounts you spent and complete only the Child 1 line. Do not report the additional attempt(s) on the Child 2 or Child 3 line. Complete the Child 2 or Child 3 lines only if you adopted or tried to adopt two or three eligible children.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP7e9c0881
Example.(p4)

You planned to adopt one U.S. child. You had one unsuccessful attempt to adopt a child and later successfully adopted a different child. Complete only the Child 1 line because you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible child.
caution
If you filed Form 8839 for a prior year in connection with this adoption, enter your 2011 information on the same line (Child 1, Child 2, or Child 3) that you used in the prior year.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP54cba60e

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP44a2f73f
More Than Three Eligible Children(p4)

rule
If you adopted or tried to adopt more than three eligible children, fill in and attach as many Forms 8839 as you need to list them. Also, enter See Attached to the right of the Caution below line 1.
For Part II, fill in lines 2 through 6 and 10 and 11 for each child. But fill in lines 7 through 9 and 12 on only one Form 8839. The amount on line 12 of that Form 8839 should be the combined total of the amounts on line 11 of all the Forms 8839.
For Part III, fill in lines 13 through 16, 18, 22, and 23 for each child. But fill in lines 17, 19 through 21, 24, and 25 on only one Form 8839. The amount on line 17 of that Form 8839 should be the combined total of the amounts on line 16 of all the Forms 8839. The amount on line 24 of that form should be the combined total of the amounts on line 23.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP3fabe261

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP0791f937
Column (c)(p4)

rule
A disabled individual is an eligible child, regardless of the individual's age at the time of adoption, if the individual is physically or mentally unable to take care of himself or herself.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP29a986c4

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP48d06ff2
Column (d)(p4)

rule
A child is a child with special needs if all three of the following statements are true.
  1. The child was a citizen or resident of the United States or its possessions at the time the adoption effort began (U.S. child).
  2. A state (including the District of Columbia) has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to his or her parents' home.
  3. The state has determined that the child will not be adopted unless assistance is provided to the adoptive parents. Factors used by states to make this determination include:
    1. The child's ethnic background and age,
    2. Whether the child is a member of a minority or sibling group, and
    3. Whether the child has a medical condition or a physical, mental, or emotional handicap.
You may be able to claim an exclusion or credit for the adoption of a U.S. child with special needs even if you did not pay any qualified adoption expenses. See line 18 and the instructions for line 5.
caution
If you check the box in column (d) indicating the child has special needs, be sure to attach a copy of the state's determination to Form 8839.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP6e0a89b9

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP51cb5eb1
Column (e)(p5)

rule
A child is a foreign child if he or she was not a citizen or resident of the United States or its possessions at the time the adoption effort began.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP43345964
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP017526af
Special rules.(p5)
rule
If you paid qualified adoption expenses in 2011 or any prior year in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption became final in 2011, you can use the total expenses you paid in 2011 and all prior years in determining the amount to enter on line 5. If you and another person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) each paid qualified adoption expenses to adopt the same child, the total qualified expenses must be divided between the two of you. You can divide it in any way you both agree.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#w23077t01
pencil

Exclusion of Prior Year Benefits Worksheet
(for the adoption of a foreign child that became final in 2011)

1.Enter the total employer-provided adoption benefits you received in 2011 and all prior years for the adoption of the foreign child 1.
2.Enter $13,360. If you and another person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) each received employer-provided adoption benefits in 2011 or any prior year to adopt the same child, see instructions below. 2.
3.Enter the smaller of line 1 or line 2 here and on Form 8839, line 13. If necessary, cross out the preprinted amount on line 13 and enter the result above the preprinted amount 3.
Next:  
 
  • Enter -0- on Form 8839, line 14.
  • Enter the amount from line 3 above on Form 8839, line 15.
  • On Form 8839, line 16, enter the total amount of employer-provided adoption benefits received in 2011 and all prior years. On the dotted line next to line 16, enter "PYAB" and the total amount of benefits you received before 2011.
  • Complete Form 8839 through line 24. Then, complete lines 4 through 9 below to figure the amount of any prior year benefits you can exclude and the taxable benefits, if any, to enter on Form 8839, line 25.
  
4.Is the amount on your 2011 Form 8839, line 24, less than the amount on Form 8839, line 17?  
 □ No. Skip lines 4 through 6 and go to line 7.   
 □ Yes. Subtract Form 8839, line 24 from line 17 4.
5.Enter the total employer-provided adoption benefits you received before 2011 included on Form 8839, line 16, for all children 5.
6.Taxable benefits. Subtract line 5 from line 4. If zero or less, enter -0-. Enter the result here and on Form 8839, line 25. If more than zero, also include this amount on line 7 of Form 1040 or line 8 of Form 1040NR, and enter "AB" on the dotted line 6.
7.Enter the amount from Form 8839, line 247.
8.Enter the total 2011 employer-provided adoption benefits included on Form 8839, line 16, for all children 8.
9.Prior year excluded benefits. Subtract line 8 from line 7. If zero or less, stop; you cannot exclude any of your prior year benefits 9.
 Next. Figure the total you would enter on line 7 of Form 1040 or line 8 of Form 1040NR before you exclude the amount from line 9 above. Then, subtract the amount from line 9 above from that total. Enter the result on line 7 of Form 1040 or line 8 of Form 1040NR. On the dotted line next to the line for wages, enter "PYAB" and the amount from line 9 above.
Line 2. The maximum amount of employer-provided adoption benefits that can be excluded from income is $13,360 per child. If you and another person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) each received employer-provided adoption benefits to adopt the same child, the $13,360 limit must be divided between the two of you. You can divide it in any way you both agree. Enter your share of the $13,360 limit on line 2 of the worksheet above.
If the adoption did not become final by the end of 2011, you cannot take the adoption credit for that child in 2011. If the adoption becomes final in a later year, you may be able to take a credit for the expenses in that year.
To find out when a foreign adoption is treated as final, see Rev. Proc. 2005-31, 2005-26 I.R.B. 1374, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2005-26_IRB/ar14.html, and Rev. Proc. 2010-31, 2010-40 I.R.B. 413, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2010-40_IRB/ar10.html.
caution
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. The Hague Adoption Convention applies if you adopted a child from a country that is party to the Hague Adoption Convention and you filed your application and petition (Forms I-800A and I-800) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service after March 31, 2008. See www.adoption.state.gov for more information on the Hague Adoption Convention, the application and petition, and a complete list of countries that are parties to the Convention.
If you received employer-provided adoption benefits in 2011 in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption did not become final by the end of 2011, you must include the benefits in the total entered on Form 1040, line 7, or Form 1040NR, line 8. Also, enter AB (adoption benefits) on the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 7, or Form 1040NR, line 8. If the adoption becomes final in a later year, you may be able to exclude the benefits from your income in that year.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP72ebf402
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP011ec5c1
Exclusion of prior year benefits.
(p5)
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If you received employer-provided adoption benefits before 2011 in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption became final in 2011, you may be able to exclude part or all of those benefits from your 2011 income. To find out if you can, complete the Exclusion of Prior Year Benefits Worksheet. You also must use that worksheet to complete Form 8839, Part III, and to figure any taxable benefits to enter on Form 8839, line 25.
If the adoption of more than one eligible foreign child became final in 2011, complete lines 1 through 3 of the Exclusion of Prior Year Benefits Worksheet separately for each foreign child and use the combined totals to complete lines 4 through 9 of the worksheet.
caution
If you check the box in column (e), you must also check the box in column (g), indicating the adoption was finalized in 2011 or earlier, and attach the appropriate documentation.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP2b285e83

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP7ae60d74
Column (f)(p5)

rule
Enter the child's identifying number. This can be a social security number (SSN), an adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN), or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Enter the child's SSN if the child has an SSN or you will be able to get an SSN in time to file your tax return. Apply for an SSN using Form SS-5.
If you are in the process of adopting a child who is a U.S. citizen or resident alien but you cannot get an SSN for the child in time to file your return, apply for an ATIN using Form W-7A. However, if the child is not a U.S. citizen or resident alien, apply instead for an ITIN using Form W-7.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP552e85cf

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP63fd3c33
Column (g)(p5)

rule
Check the box in column (g) if the adoption for each child became final in 2011 or earlier.
caution
Attach the appropriate documentation, listed earlier, supporting your claim for a finalized adoption for each child for whom you checked this box.