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How do I claim my child on my tax return to get the child tax return

2 Replies
Level 15

How do I claim my child on my tax return to get the child tax return

Start by entering your own personal information in My Info, then enter  your child's information including the child's date of birth and Social Security number.  If the child was born in 2019 you have to say they lived with you the whole year.  Go through all the screens of My Info for the child.Once you have all of that entered, the child should show up as your dependent.


Then enter your income.  You get child-related credits based on the amount of income you earned by working.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
Level 15

How do I claim my child on my tax return to get the child tax return

There is no "child tax return", per se.  In particular, you do not automatically get $2000 per child, that you may have heard of.


The money you hear about people getting for just filing a tax return claiming kids requires them to  have some earned income (wages or self employment). Without earned income, they are not eligible for the "refundable" Earned Income Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.  Both credits are calculated on the amount of earned income you have. No earned income means no "refund". A small amount of earned income means a small refund. The child tax credit does not "kick in" unless you have at least $2500 of earned income.


A child can be the “qualifying child” dependent of any close relative in the household. If you live with someone else, e.g. your parents, it may be better if they claim your child.

Instead, you could allow the non-custodial parent to claim the children.  Non-custodial parents are allowed to claim the child tax credit, but not the Earned income credit.



You do not select the Child Tax credit (CTC). If you are entitled to it,  TurboTax (TT) will automatically give it to you.

 There are 6 possible reasons; you aren’t getting the Child Tax credit (CTC). It’s usually #4:

  1. You’ve entered something wrong. In the personal Info section, for the dependent, you must select answers that indicate that he/she is your dependent child. If the child was born during the year, say he/she lived with you all year (note: TurboTax changed how this section is done two years ago, you may need to go thru the interview again or even delete your dependent and start over). If the child was born in 2018, you have to answer that he lived with you all year. The CTC is not an automatic $2000, per child. It is income dependent. If you haven't entered your income yet, the CTC will not show.
  2. Your child may be too old (over 16). You can still claim your child. What you can't claim is the Child tax credit. This comes as a big surprise to many parents the year their child turns 17. A child over age 16 no longer qualifies for the Child Tax credit (CTC). Although a child can still be a student dependent through age 23, and a qualifying child for EIC, the Child Tax Credit expires the year they turn 17 and you no longer get the $2000 CTC.
  3. Your income is too high. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is phased out at higher incomes starting at $400,000 for joint filers ($200K single). You lose $50 for each $1000 (rounding up) your income is over that threshold.

Previously it was $75,000 for single, head of household, and qualifying widow or widower filers; and $110,000 for joint filers.

  1. Your income is too low. The child tax credit (CTC) is also limited to your tax liability. The CTC is a non-refundable credit and can only reduce your income tax to 0, It can not help you beyond eliminating your tax liability. But, if you have more than $2500 of earned income, some or all of it is usually given back to you thru the "Additional Child tax credit". That is, part of the CTC may be on line 18b of form 1040 (2019 version) instead of line 13a (lines 17 and 12 in 2018).   The  ACTC is calculated on form 8812 and  is basically 15% of your earned income over $2500. The ACTC is a maximum of $1400 per child (not $2000).
  2. You are the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent is claiming the dependent this year. The CTC goes with the dependency, even though the custodial parent still gets the Earned Income Credit, Dependent care credit and Head of Household.
    6. Another possibility is that part of your tax due is not regular income tax, but is self-employment tax (FICA), early distribution penalty or another type of additional tax, for which the CTC cannot be used.

To get a 'second opinion' on-line direct from IRS, try


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