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Publication 972

Child Tax Credit


Future Developments(p1)

For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 972, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to

What’s New(p1)

Disaster tax relief.(p1)
Disaster tax relief was enacted for those impacted by certain Presidentially declared disasters, including provisions which allow taxpayers to use their 2016 earned income to figure their 2017 additional child tax credit. See the Instructions for Schedule 8812 and Pub. 976, Disaster Relief, for more information.


Delayed refund for returns claiming the EIC or ACTC.(p1)
The IRS can't issue refunds before mid-February 2018 for returns that properly claimed the earned income credit (EIC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC). This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with these credits. The IRS expects the earliest that earned income credit and/or additional child tax credit related refunds will be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards is February 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.
Child tax credit and additional child tax credit may be disallowed.(p1)
If you claim the CTC or ACTC, but you are not eligible for the credit and it is later determined that your error was due to reckless or intentional disregard of the CTC or ACTC rules, you will not be allowed to claim either credit for 2 years. If it is determined that your error was due to fraud, you will not be allowed to claim either credit for 10 years. You may also have to pay penalties.
Form 8862 required.(p1)
If your 2016 CTC or ACTC was denied or reduced for any reason other than a math or clerical error, you must attach a completed Form 8862 to your 2017 tax return to claim the credit in 2017. See Form 8862 and its instructions for details.
Photographs of missing children.(p1)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC). Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visiting if you recognize a child.


The purpose of this publication is:
  1. To figure the child tax credit you claim on Form 1040, line 52; Form 1040A, line 35; or Form 1040NR, line 49; and
  2. To figure the amount of earned income you enter on line 4a of Schedule 8812 (Form 1040A or 1040), Child Tax Credit.
This publication is intended primarily for individuals sent here by the instructions to Forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040NR, or Schedule 8812. Even if you were not sent here by the instructions to one of the forms or the schedule, you can still choose to use this publication to figure your credit. However, most individuals can use a simpler worksheet in their tax form instructions.

If you were sent here from your Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions.(p2)

Complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet later in this publication.

If you were sent here from your Schedule 8812 instructions.(p2)

Complete the 1040 and 1040NR Filers —Earned Income Worksheet later in this publication.

If you have not read your Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions.(p2)

Read the explanation of who must use this publication next. If you find that you are not required to use this publication to figure your child tax credit, you can use the simpler worksheet in the Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR instructions to figure your credit.

Who must use this publication.(p2)

If you answer "Yes" to either of the following questions, you must use this publication to figure your child tax credit.
  1. Are you excluding income from Puerto Rico or filing any of the following forms?
    1. Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (relating to foreign earned income).
    2. Form 4563 (exclusion of income for residents of American Samoa).
  2. Are you claiming any of the following credits?
    1. Mortgage interest credit, Form 8396.
    2. Adoption credit, Form 8839.
    3. Residential energy efficient property credit, Form 5695, Part I.
    4. District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit, Form 8859.

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments through Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

Although we can’t respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax forms, instructions, and publications.
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question not answered by this publication, check and How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.

Child Tax Credit(p2)

This credit is for people who have a qualifying child as defined later. It is in addition to the credit for child and dependent care expenses (on Form 1040, line 49; Form 1040A, line 31; or Form 1040NR, line 47) and the earned income credit (on Form 1040, line 66a; or Form 1040A, line 42a).
The maximum amount you can claim for the credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child.

Qualifying Child(p2)

A qualifying child for purposes of the CTC is a child who:
  1. Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew),
  2. Was under age 17 at the end of 2017,
  3. Did not provide over half of his or her own support for 2017,
  4. Lived with you for more than half of 2017 (see Exceptions to time lived with you, later),
  5. Is claimed as a dependent on your return,
  6. Does not file a joint return for the year (or files it only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid), and
  7. Was a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a U.S. resident alien. For more information, see Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. If the child was adopted, see Adopted child, later.
For each qualifying child, you must either check the box on Form 1040 or Form 1040A, line 6c, column (4); or Form 1040NR, line 7c, column (4).

Example 1.(p2)

Your son turned 17 on December 30, 2017. He is a citizen of the United States and you claimed him as a dependent on your return. He is not a qualifying child for the CTC because he was not under age 17 at the end of 2017.

Example 2.(p3)

Your 10-year-old nephew lives in Mexico and qualifies as your dependent. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien, he is not a qualifying child for the CTC.

Filers who have certain child dependents with an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). (p3)

If you are claiming a CTC or ACTC for a child identified on your tax return with an ITIN, you must complete Part I of Schedule 8812 (Form 1040A or 1040). An ITIN is for tax use only and may expire under certain conditions. See the Instructions for Form W-7 for details.
Although a child may be your dependent, you may claim a CTC or ACTC only for a dependent who is a citizen, national, or resident of the United States. To be treated as a resident of the United States, a child generally will need to meet the requirements of the substantial presence test. For more information about the substantial presence test, see Pub. 519.

Adopted child.(p3)

An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your adopted child lived with you all year as a member of your household in 2017, that child meets condition (7) above to be a qualifying child for the CTC.

Exceptions to time lived with you.(p3)

A child is considered to have lived with you for more than half of 2017 if the child was born or died in 2017 and your home was this child's home for more than half the time he or she was alive. Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the child lived with you.
There are also exceptions for kidnapped children and children of divorced or separated parents. For details, see the instructions for line 6c in either the Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions.

Qualifying child of more than one person.(p3)

A special rule applies if your qualifying child is the qualifying child of more than one person. For details, see the instructions for line 6c in either the Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions.

Limits on the Credit(p3)

You must reduce the maximum credit amount of $1,000 for each child if either (1) or (2) applies.
  1. The amount on Form 1040, line 47; Form 1040A, line 30; or Form 1040NR, line 45, is less than the credit. If this amount is zero, you cannot take this credit because there is no tax to reduce. But you may be able to take the ACTC. See Additional Child Tax Credit, later.
  2. Your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than the amount shown below for your filing status.
    1. Married filing jointly – $110,000.
    2. Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) – $75,000.
    3. Married filing separately – $55,000.

Modified AGI.(p3)

For purposes of the CTC, your modified AGI is your AGI plus the following amounts that may apply to you.
If you do not have any of the above, your modified AGI is the same as your AGI.
Your AGI is the amount on Form 1040, line 38; Form 1040A, line 22; or Form 1040NR, line 37.

Claiming the Credit(p3)

To claim the CTC, you must file Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040NR. You cannot claim the CTC on Form 1040EZ or Form 1040NR-EZ. You must provide the name and identification number (usually a social security number) on your tax return for each qualifying child.
Taxpayer identification number needed by due date of return. If you do not have a social security number (SSN) or IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) by the due date of your 2017 return (including extensions), you cannot claim the CTC or the ACTC on either your original or an amended 2017 return, even if you later get an SSN or ITIN. Also, neither credit is allowed on either your original or an amended 2017 return for a child who does not have an SSN, ITIN, or IRS adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) by the due date of your return (including extensions), even if that child later gets one of those numbers.
If you apply for an ATIN or ITIN on or before the due date of your 2017 return (including extensions) and the IRS issues you an ATIN or ITIN as a result of the application, the IRS will consider your ATIN or ITIN as issued on or before the due date of your return.