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What Is the Child Tax Credit?

The Child Tax Credit is a tax benefit for people with low or moderate incomes.

The Child Tax Credit may reduce the taxes you owe and in some cases may give you a cash refund.

Is the Child Tax Credit Like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

The Child Tax Credit is not the same as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Child Tax Credit and EITC have different rules.

Many people who do not qualify for the EITC, qualify for the Child Tax Credit. Some people will qualify for both the Child Tax Credit and the EITC.

A married couple with two children will qualify for the EITC if their combined incomes are below $46,044. A married couple with two children will qualify for the full Child Tax Credit if their combined incomes are less than $110,000!

Unlike the EITC, you can:

  1. Get more Child Tax Credit if you have more than two children;
  2. Claim the Child Tax Credit and file as “married filing separately”;
  3. Claim the Child Tax Credit with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Who Can Get the Child Tax Credit?

To get the Child Tax Credit, your child must be:

  • Your son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, adopted child, grandchild or eligible foster child.
  • Under age 17 at the end of 2011. Your child must be 16 years old or younger on December 31, 2011.
  • Your dependent. Your child must qualify as a dependent and be listed on your tax return as a dependent.
  • A citizen or United States (U.S.) resident. You can be a U.S. resident even if you do not have permission to live and work in the U.S.
**You must also earn more than $3,000 per year to qualify for the Child Tax Credit.


How Much Child Tax Credit Can I Get?

The amount of your Child Tax Credit depends on the number of children that you have. You can get up to $1,000 per qualifying child.

 

Number of Children Maximum Child Tax Credit
1 $1,000
2 $2,000
3 $3,000
4 $4,000

 

To get the maximum amount, you must make less than or equal to the income listed.

 

Filing Status Amount
Married Filing Jointly $110,000
Married Filing Separately $55,000
Head of Household and Qualifying Widow $75,000
Single $75,000

 

Will the Child Tax Credit Affect My Public Benefits?

The Child Tax Credit will not affect your eligibility or amount of most public benefits, even if you receive a cash refund of the Child Tax Credit.

If you already get assistance, the Child Tax Credit should not affect the amount of your benefits.

If you are denied public benefits or your amount decreases because of the Child Tax Credit, you should call Community Legal Aid’s Legal HelpLine.

For More Information

To find out how much Child Tax Credit you can get, you should:

  • Talk to a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance(VITA) Volunteer 1-800-829-1040 (for the location of a VITA site)

- or -

  • Talk to a Tax Counselor for the Elderly (TCE) or AARP Volunteer 1-888-227-7669 (for the location of a TCE site)

- or -

  • Talk to a tax professional

 

More information can be found in IRS Publication 972. You can obtain a copy of the publication on the IRS website www.irs.gov or by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Additional Child Tax Credit

The Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit and may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.

Will I Get a Cash Refund of the Additional Child Tax Credit?

You might get a cash refund of the Additional Child Tax Credit if you did not use all of your allowed Child Tax Credit listed on your tax return.

To calculate the cash refund of the additional child tax credit, see IRS Publication 972 and IRS Form 8812.

 

Download the Child Tax Credit brochure by clicking here

 

This handout is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Info Updated: April 2012. CE-24-BR102-CLAS

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