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Can I claim an Adoption Credit for an unsuccessful adoption?

SOLVEDby TurboTax55Updated February 08, 2022

Yes. If for some reason you aren’t able to finalize your adoption, you can still claim the Adoption Credit on your tax return. 

You’ll report the credit on Form 8839 - Qualified Adoption Expenses.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Failed adoption credits for domestic adoptions can't be claimed until the year after the adoption would have become final
  • If you paid qualified expenses in any year before the year the adoption would have become final, then take the credit the year after you paid the expenses
  • In the case of unsuccessful adoptions with foreign children, you can't take the credit for the expenses incurred
  • You can still file for the credit, even if you don't have all the info about an eligible child you were planning to adopt

Follow these instructions to file for the credit:

  1. Sign in to TurboTax and open your return
  2. Select Federal
  3. Select Deductions & Credits
  4. Scroll down and select See All Tax Breaks
  5. Select You and Your Family
  6. Select Start next to Adoption Credit
  7. Select Yes on the Did you pay any adoption expenses in 2021 or earlier? screen
  8. Enter as much information as you can on the Tell us about your child screen
    1. Enter “unknown” for the first and last name of the child
    2. Enter the year you started the adoption process in the birth year field
    3. Leave any other fields blank if you don’t have the information
  9. Select Continue
  10. Answer the questions until you reach the Let us know which one applies to your adoption screen
  11. Select My adoption attempt was unsuccessful, then Continue
  12. Enter your qualified adoption expenses paid in the prior year on the Tell us about your qualified adoption expenses screen
  13. Enter your qualified adoption expenses for the current year on the next screen

Be sure to enter all of your expenses to ensure you receive the full amount of the Adoption Credit you're entitled to.  

You can only claim the adoption credit in the tax year following the year the expense was incurred.  For example, expenses incurred in 2020 wouldn't be considered for the Adoption Credit until the 2021 tax year.

The adoption credit can be carried forward for the next five years or until used, whichever comes first.

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