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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 8839
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#en_us_publink23077td0e531

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#en_us_publink23077td0e539
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 table.
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#en_us_publink23077td0e625
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP52acb42f
Child with special needs.(p3)
rule
If you adopt a U.S. child with special needs, you may be able to exclude up to $12,970 and claim a credit for additional expenses up to $12,970 (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 Column (d), later, for more information.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#en_us_publink23077td0e633
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 in the following table.
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.
For more information, see Column (e) later. 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.
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.
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Specific Instructions(p3)

rule
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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.
If you cannot give complete information about an eligible child you tried to adopt in 2012 because the adoption was either unsuccessful or was not final by the end of 2013, complete the entries that you can on line 1. Leave blank any entries you are unable to complete. For example, if you do not have an SSN or ATIN for your eligible child, leave column (f) blank.
taxtip
For examples of the type of records you may want to keep to substantiate your claim for the adoption credit, see Notice 2010-66, 2010-42 I.R.B. 437 available at www.irs.gov/irb/2010-42_IRB/ar09.html.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP18c6a813
Attempted Adoptions of U.S. Children(p3)

rule
In general, the dollar limitation requires you to combine the qualified adoption expenses you paid if you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible U.S. child. When you combine the amounts you spent, 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#TXMP2ca5c1b0
Example 1.(p3)

You planned to adopt one U.S. child. You paid $10,000 of qualified adoption expenses in an unsuccessful attempt to adopt a child. You later paid $8,000 of additional qualified adoption expenses in a successful adoption of a different child. Complete only the Child 1 line because you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible child.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP20205470
Example 2.(p3)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that both attempts are unsuccessful and no adoption is ever finalized. Enter $18,000 ($10,000 + $8,000) on the Child 1 line because you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible child.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP244e9ba9
Example 3.(p3)

You planned to adopt one U.S. child. You paid $9,000 in qualified adoption expenses in an unsuccessful attempt to adopt a child. You later successfully adopted twins, after paying an additional $24,000 in qualified adoption expenses ($12,000 per child). Enter $21,000 ($9,000 + $12,000) on the Child 1 line because you made more than one attempt to adopt one eligible child. Enter $12,000 on the Child 2 line because you made a successful attempt to adopt a second eligible child.
caution
If you filed Form 8839 for a prior year in connection with this adoption, enter your 2013 information on the same line (Child 1, Child 2, or Child 3) that you used in the prior year.
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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 through 16 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 Forms 8839.
For Part III, fill in lines 17 through 20, 22, 26, and 27 for each child. But fill in lines 21, 23 through 25, 28, and 29 on only one Form 8839. The amount on line 21 of that Form 8839 should be the combined total of the amounts on line 20 of all the Forms 8839. The amount on line 28 of that form should be the combined total of the amounts on line 27.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP0791f937
Column (c)(p4)

rule
A disabled individual, one who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself, is an eligible child regardless of his or her age at the time of adoption.
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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 22 and the instructions for Line 5.
For more information, see Tax Topic 607 available at www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP1727c245
Example 1. (p4)

Agency A is the child welfare department of State W. Mark, Rachel, and Janet, brother and sisters, are U.S. children residing in State W. When Mark was 10, Rachel 8, and Janet 6, Agency A removed the children from the home of the biological parents.
After Agency A placed the children in foster care, Agency A determined it would be difficult to place the children for adoption without providing assistance to the adoptive family because of the ages and sibling relationship of the children. Agency A provided the adoptive parents with monthly subsidy payments on behalf of each child. The adoption assistance agreements entered into between Agency A and the adoptive parents are evidence that state W has determined that Mark, Rachel, and Janet are children with special needs and may be used to substantiate the adoptive parents' claim to the adoption tax credit.
Because State W has determined that Mark, Rachel, and Janet are children with special needs, their adoptive parents may claim an adoption tax credit for each child, even if the adoptive parents paid no qualifying adoption expenses, if all other requirements of the credit are met.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP205f55e8
Example 2.(p4)

Hannah is born in State X. Her biological parents place Hannah for adoption through a private adoption agency and voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. Hannah then is adopted. A medical exam performed shortly after Hannah's birth establishes that Hannah has serious physical disabilities. Hannah is not a child with special needs for purposes of the adoption tax credit because State X has neither removed her from her biological parents nor made a determination that Hannah has special needs. However, Hannah's adoptive parents may claim the adoption tax credit for the qualified adoption expenses they paid in connection with Hannah's adoption, if all other requirements of the credit are met.

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP5b8e8ac2
Example 3.(p4)

Noah is born in Country Z and is diagnosed with serious physical and mental disabilities. Noah's adoptive parents, who are residents of State Y, adopt Noah in Country Z, bring him to the United States, and re-adopt him in State Y. Noah is not a child with special needs for purposes of the adoption tax credit because he was not a citizen or resident of the United States when the adoption process began and because State Y neither removed him from the home of his biological parents nor made a determination that Noah has special needs. However, Noah's adoptive parents may claim the adoption tax credit for the qualified adoption expenses they paid in connection with Noah's adoption, if all other requirements of the credit are met.
caution
If you check the box in column (d) indicating the child has special needs, be sure to keep evidence of the state's determination in your records.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP51cb5eb1
Column (e)(p4)

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#en_us_publink23077td0e916
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP017526af
Special rules.(p4)
rule
If you paid qualified adoption expenses in 2013 or any prior year in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption became final in 2013, you can use the total expenses you paid in 2013 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 2013)

1.Enter the total employer-provided adoption benefits you received in 2013 and all prior years for the adoption of the foreign child 1.
2.Enter $12,970. If you and another person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) each received employer-provided adoption benefits in 2013 or any prior year to adopt the same child, see the instructions for line 2 at the end of this worksheet 2.
3.Enter the smaller of line 1 or line 2 here and on Form 8839, line 17. If necessary, cross out the preprinted amount on line 17 and enter the result above the preprinted amount 3.
Next:  
 
  • Enter -0- on Form 8839, line 18.
  • Enter the amount from line 3 of this worksheet on Form 8839, line 19.
  • On Form 8839, line 20, enter the total amount of employer-provided adoption benefits received in 2013 and all prior years. On the dotted line next to line 20, enter "PYAB" and the total amount of benefits you received before 2013.
  • Complete Form 8839 through line 28. Then, complete lines 4 through 9 of this worksheet to figure the amount of any prior year benefits you can exclude and the taxable benefits, if any, to enter on Form 8839, line 29.
  
4.Is the amount on your 2013 Form 8839, line 28, less than the amount on Form 8839, line 21?  
 □ No. Skip lines 4 through 6 of this worksheet and go to line 7.   
 □ Yes. Subtract Form 8839, line 28 from line 21 4.
5.Enter the total employer-provided adoption benefits you received before 2013 included on Form 8839, line 20, for all children 5.
6.Taxable benefits. Subtract line 5 of this worksheet from line 4. If zero or less, enter -0-. Enter the result here and on Form 8839, line 29. 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 287.
8.Enter the total 2013 employer-provided adoption benefits included on Form 8839, line 20, for all children 8.
9.Prior year excluded benefits. Subtract line 8 of this worksheet 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 of this worksheet. Then, subtract the amount from line 9 of this worksheet 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 of this worksheet.
Line 2. The maximum amount of employer-provided adoption benefits that can be excluded from income is $12,970 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 $12,970 limit must be divided between the two of you. You can divide it in any way you both agree. Enter your share of the $12,970 limit on line 2 of this worksheet.
If the adoption did not become final by the end of 2013, you cannot take the adoption credit for that child in 2013.
In general, the year of finality of a foreign adoption is determined either under Rev. Proc. 2005-31, I.R.B. 2005-31, 2005-26 1374, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2005-26_IRB/ar14.html (non-Hague adoptions) or under Rev. Proc. 2010-31, 2010-41 I.R.B. 413, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2010-40_IRB/ar10.html (Hague adoptions).
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP79547980
Non-Hague adoptions.
(p4)
spacer

In most non-Hague adoptions, there is an adoption proceeding in the foreign country (and the country is one that is not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, discussed later) before the child is permitted to come to the United States. There may also be a re-adoption proceeding in the United States, either in the same year as the foreign adoption or in a later year. Rev. Proc. 2005-31 generally allows taxpayers to choose as the year of finality: (1) the year of the foreign-sending country adoption proceeding, or (2) the year of the re-adoption, if the re-adoption occurs in either the first or second year following the year of the foreign-country proceeding. The expenses of re-adoption are qualified adoption expenses in the year in which the expenses are paid, subject to the dollar limitation.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP6afee706
Example.
(p4)
spacer

Brian and Susan paid qualified adoption expenses of $7,000 in 2010, $8,000 in 2011, and $ 9,000 in 2012 in connection with the adoption of an eligible foreign child from Country X. Country X is a non-Hague country (a country not party to the Hague Adoption Convention). In 2012, Country X issued a final decree of adoption to Brian and Susan, who brought the child to the United States on an IR2, IR3, or IR4 visa. In 2013, Brian and Susan paid $1,000 in qualified adoption expenses in connection with re-adopting the child in their home state. Brian and Susan's modified gross income (MAGI) is less than the MAGI limitation in all years.
Under Rev. Proc. 2005-31, Brian and Susan may treat 2012 (the year of the adoption in Country X) or 2013 (the year of re-adoption in the United States) as the year of finality. If Brian and Susan choose 2012, then the $24,000 of aggregate qualified adoption expenses paid in 2010, 2011, and 2012 ($7,000 plus $8,000 plus $9,000) will be treated as paid in 2012. The credit will be limited to $12,650 (the dollar limitation for 2012).
Brian and Susan instead may choose to treat 2013 (the year of re-adoption in the United States) as the year of finality. If Brian and Susan choose 2013, then the $25,000 of aggregate qualified adoption expenses paid ($24,000 total from 2010, 2011, and 2012, plus the $1,000 of re-adoption expenses paid in 2013) will be treated as paid in 2013. The credit will be limited to $12,970 (the dollar limitation for 2013).
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Hague adoptions.
(p5)
spacer

In Hague adoptions, there is usually an adoption proceeding in the sending country (and the country is one that is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, discussed later) before the child is permitted to come to the United States. Rev. Proc. 2010-31 generally allows taxpayers to choose as the year of finality: (1) the year in which the sending country enters a final decree of adoption, or (2) the year in which the U.S. Secretary of State issues a certificate under section 301(a) of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. sections 14901 - 14954.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP5f9cb1dd
Custodial agreements followed by adoption in the United States.
(p5)
spacer

In a few cases, the sending country may permit the child to come to the United States under a custodial agreement. If so, the child will be adopted later in a state court in the United States. Both Rev. Proc. 2005-31 and Rev. Proc. 2010-31 allow the adoptive parent(s) to treat the year of the state-court adoption as the year of finality.
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 2013 in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption did not become final by the end of 2013, you must include the benefits in the total entered on Form 1040, line 7, or Form 1040NR, line 8. Also, enter AB on the dotted line next to Form 1040, line 7, or Form 1040NR, line 8.
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#en_us_publink23077td0e1314
taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP011ec5c1
Exclusion of prior year benefits.
(p6)
spacer

If you received employer-provided adoption benefits before 2013 in connection with the adoption of a foreign child and the adoption became final in 2013, you may be able to exclude part or all of those benefits from your 2013 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 29.
If the adoption of more than one eligible foreign child became final in 2013, 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 2013 or earlier.
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taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP7ae60d74
Column (f)(p6)

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#en_us_publink23077td0e1352

taxmap/instr2/i8839-004.htm#TXMP63fd3c33
Column (g)(p6)

rule
Check the box in column (g) if the adoption for each child became final in 2013 or earlier.