If you have children or other dependents, and qualify to claim them on your tax return, there are a few things you need to know before you file your federal tax return.
Child and dependent-related tax benefits are some of the most common claimed benefits on federal tax returns each year. If you don’t know which ones you may qualify for, you can use the online interactive tax assistant.
In addition, you should use the IRS child-related tax benefits comparison table to help you with basic eligibility rules applying to:
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC);
- Child Tax Credit (CTC);
- Credit for Other Dependents (ODC);
- Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC); and
- Head of household (HOH) filing status.
Items that Require Action Now
Get a Social Security number (SSN) or a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for all qualifying dependents.
- If your qualifying child does not have a valid SSN and needs one, get it before you file. Why? Because your child needs an SSN that is valid for employment which has been issued before the due date of your tax return (including extensions) for you to be able to claim EITC or CTC.
- If you are not able to claim the CTC or EITC because your qualifying child or qualifying relative does not have the required SSN, but has another type of TIN issued on or before the due date of your tax return (including extensions) such as an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN), or a Not Valid for Employment SSN, you may be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents, Child and Dependent Care Credit, or Head of Household.
- If your qualifying dependent has an ITIN that will expire before the end of the year or does not have one assigned yet, you will need to timely file a Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to ensure it is available for when you file.
- Sometimes an ITIN request can take up to 11 weeks to process. Please make sure you check on irs.gov that any IRS backlogs have not extended these timeframes. Review the rules now and apply right away, so you don’t miss out on this credit or delay any possible refund. ATIN requests generally take 4 to 8 weeks.
No matter which credit(s) you may claim, learn more about what identification is needed for dependents now to avoid problems later.