The Adoption Tax Credit

Important: Some of the information below (i.e. value amount) is for 2018 Tax Returns. We will update this page as soon as the IRS releases the 2019 information. 

The Adoption Credit is a tax credit designed to help parents with the expenses related to adopting a child under the age of 18 (including a child with special needs). When you start a free tax return on, you can include your adoption expenses and the credit will automatically be calculated and reported for you on your tax return.

In order to qualify for the Adoption Tax Credit, the child must be a U.S. citizen or resident on or before December 31 of the tax year. If the adoption becomes final, the adoption credit can be taken for non U.S. citizens or foreign residents. If the child has special needs and the state determines that the child would not be adopted without assistance, then you may be eligible for an increased tax credit.

Qualified Adoption Expenses

Qualifying expenses include the following:

  • adoption fees
  • court costs
  • attorney fees
  • traveling expenses (including meals and lodging while away from home)
  • other expenses directly related to the adoption of an eligible child

Any expenses that were previously reimbursed by your employer may not be counted towards the credit. However, there may be qualified expenses paid by your employer that can be excluded from your taxable income.

You can claim the Adoption Credit for most foreign or domestic adoptions, however the timing rules for which expenses can be claimed vary between the domestic and foreign adoptions:

  • Domestic Adoption - Qualified adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the tax year following the year of payment (even if the adoption is never finalized).
  • Foreign Adoption - Qualified adoption expenses paid before and during the year are allowable as a credit for the year when the adoption becomes final.

Adoption Credit Amount

For Tax Year 2018, the maximum adoption credit is $13,840 per child.

The credit for qualifying adoption expenses is subject to a dollar limit and an income limit. The income limit is based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). If your income is above the AGI limit, it may be reduced by a certain percentage or, if above the maximum limit, the credit may be eliminated in its entirety. Due to The Affordable Care Act, income limits for the Adoption Credit will be adjusted for inflation. You can save any unused portion of your credit and carry it forward to reduce your tax for up to 5 years.

How To Claim the Adoption Tax Credit

The Adoption Tax Credit can be claimed on a tax return by any qualifying taxpayer with a filing status of Married Filing Joint, Qualifying Widow(er), or Head-of-Household by using Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses efile it . If you are married, you must file a joint return to claim the adoption credit. If you filed using the filing status of Married Filing Separately, you can take the credit only if you amend your return and change it to the Married Filing Joint status in the years that you wish to claim the credit.

When you prepare your tax return on, you can enter your adoption expenses and we will automatically prepare and report your Adoption Tax Credit on Form 8839 and it will be efiled with your return.

Due to increased documentation requirements by the Affordable Care Act, some taxpayers claiming the Adoption Tax Credit might have to file their return by mail. You must include one or more adoption-related documents with your mailed tax return. You can still use to prepare and print your return, however you will need to mail a paper copy to the IRS. It is easy to print a completed return from your account.

Other Tax Breaks

See what other tax credits and tax deductions you might qualify for to claim on your tax return.