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IRS.gov Website
Publication 17
taxmap/pub17/p17-171.htm#en_us_publink1000174526

Chapter 33
Child Tax Credit(p231)

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The child tax credit is a credit that may reduce your tax by as much as $1,000 for each of your qualifying children.
The additional child tax credit is a credit you may be able to take if you are not able to claim the full amount of the child tax credit.
This chapter explains the following.
EIC
The child tax credit and the additional child tax credit should not be confused with the child and dependent care credit discussed in chapter 31.
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If you have no tax.(p231)

rule
Credits, such as the child tax credit or the credit for child and dependent care expenses, are used to reduce tax. If your tax on Form 1040, line 46, or Form 1040A, line 28, is zero, do not figure the child tax credit because there is no tax to reduce. However, you may qualify for the additional child tax credit on line 65 (Form 1040) or line 39 (Form 1040A).

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Useful items

You may want to see:


Publication
 972 Child Tax Credit
Form (and Instructions)
 8812: Additional Child Tax Credit
 W-4: Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
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Qualifying Child(p231)

rule
A qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit is a child who:
  1. Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew),
  2. Was under age 17 at the end of 2011,
  3. Did not provide over half of his or her own support for 2011,
  4. Lived with you for more than half of 2011 (see Exceptions to time lived with you later),
  5. Is claimed as a dependent on your return,
  6. Does not file a joint return for the year (or files it only as a claim for refund), and
  7. Was a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a resident of the United States. If the child was adopted, see Adopted child below.
For each qualifying child you must check the box on Form 1040 or Form 1040A, line 6c, column (4).
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Example.(p231)

Your son turned 17 on December 30, 2011. He is a citizen of the United States and you claimed him as a dependent on your return. He is not a qualifying child for the child tax credit because he was not under age 17 at the end of 2011.
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Adopted child.(p231)

rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your adopted child lived with you all year as a member of your household in 2011, that child meets condition (7) above to be a qualifying child for the child tax credit.
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Exceptions to time lived with you.(p231)

rule
A child is considered to have lived with you for all of 2011 if the child was born or died in 2011 and your home was this child's home for the entire time he or she was alive. Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as for school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the child lived with you.
There are also exceptions for kidnapped children and children of divorced or separated parents. For details, see Residency Test in chapter 3.
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Qualifying child of more than one person.(p231)

rule
A special rule applies if your qualifying child is the qualifying child of more than one person. For details, see Special Rule for Qualifying Child of More Than One Person in chapter 3.