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Published:   |   Last Updated: February 6, 2024

See this important information about child and dependent-related tax benefits

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 now, and some you may need to act on before you file your federal tax return.

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General Information

Child and dependent-related tax benefits are some of the most common claimed on federal tax returns each year. If you don’t know which ones you may qualify for, visit Child-Related Tax Benefits. You can also use the online interactive assistant to help you determine if you qualify or not.

In addition, you should use this IRS child-related tax benefits comparison chart to help you with rules applying to:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC);
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the refundable part of the CTC, the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC);
  • Credit for Other Dependents (ODC);
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC); and
  • Head of household filing status.

Items that Require Action Now

Get a Social Security number or a Taxpayer Identification Number for all qualifying dependents.

  • If your qualifying child does not have a valid Social Security number (SSN) and needs one, get it before you file. Why? Because if your child does not have the required SSN that is valid for employment and issued before the due date of your tax return (including extensions) you will not be able to claim EITC, CTC, or ACTC.
  • If your qualifying child or qualifying relative does not have the required SSN, but has another type of taxpayer identification number 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 an SSN not valid for employment, you may be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents.
    • If your qualifying dependent has an ITIN that will expire or does not have one assigned yet, you will need to file a Form W-7 now to ensure it is available for when you file.
    • Sometimes an ITIN request can take up to seven weeks. Review the rules now and apply right away, so you don’t miss out on this credit or delay any possible refund. ATIN requests also 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.

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