Child-Related Tax Benefits Comparison

This table displays the basic eligibility rules for tax credits and benefits available to you if you have a dependent qualifying child. We compare the rules for a dependent qualifying child to the rules for the:

  • 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)
  • Head of household filing status

Caution:  This table is for quick comparison only. Each listed tax credit or benefit has other requirements. This at-a-glance guide also tells you where to find more information.

Child’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN):

  • For the EITC, the child MUST have a Social Security Number (SSN) that’s valid for employment and issued by the due date of the return (including extensions).  The SSN must not have been issued only for the child to receive a Federal benefit, such as Medicaid.

Note: An SSN issued to a child born in the United States (U.S.) is valid for employment.

  • For the CTC/ACTC, the child must have an SSN that’s valid for employment and issued before the due date of the return (including extensions).
  • For the ODC, the child must have a TIN that’s issued by the due date of the return (including extensions).  The TIN can be an SSN, individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN).  The child’s SSN doesn’t have to be valid for employment.

Note: The IRS will consider an ITIN or ATIN to be issued by the due date of the return (including extensions) if a taxpayer applied for the ITIN or ATIN by that date and the IRS issues an ITIN or ATIN as a result of the application.

Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements

Dependents

Child must be:
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) and under age 19 at end of the tax year
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return), under age 24 at the end of the tax year and a full time student1
  • Any age if permanently and totally disabled2

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still be eligible to be claimed as a dependent under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

Earned Income Credit

Child must be:

  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) and under age 19 at end of the tax year
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return), under age 24 at the end of the tax year and a full time student1
  • Any age if permanently and totally disabled2
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit
  • Child must be younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) and under age 17 at the end of the tax year
Credit for Other Dependents

Child must be:

  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) and under age 19 at end of the tax year
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return), under age 24 at the end of the tax year and a full time student1
  • Any age if permanently and totally disabled2

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify your for the credit for the other dependents under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 972 for more information.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Child must be younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) And Under age 13 for the days the care was provided during the tax year

Exception:

  • Child who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care who lived with you for more than half the tax year

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for the child and dependent care credit under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 503 for more information.

Head of Household Child must be:
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) and under age 19 at end of the tax year
  • Younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return), under age 24 at the end of the tax year and a full time student1
  • Any age if permanently and totally disabled2

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for head of household filing status under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements

Dependents

Earned Income Tax Credit
 

Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit

Credit for Other Dependents

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Head of Household

Child must be your:

Son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, adopted child,3 foster child,4 brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or descendant of any of them

 

Note: A person who isn't related to you in one of these ways may still be eligible to be claimed under the rules for dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501, 503 and 972 for more information.

Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents Yes, see Publication 501 for the rules claiming a dependency exemption for a person who isn’t your qualifying child
Earned Income Tax Credit Yes, see Publication 596 for the rules for claiming the credit without a qualifying child
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit No
Credit for Other Dependents Yes, see Publication 972 for the rules claiming the credit for a dependent who isn’t your qualifying child
Child and Dependent Care Credit Yes, see Publication 503 for the rules for claiming the credit for a person who isn’t your qualifying child
Head of Household Yes, see Publication 501 for the rules for claiming the filing status for a dependent who isn’t your qualifying child
Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents

Child must have lived with you for more than half the tax year.

Exceptions:

  • Temporary absence
  • Birth or death of child
  • Kidnapped child
  • Divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still be eligible to be claimed as dependent under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

Earned Income Tax Credit

Child must have lived with you in the U.S. for more than half of the tax year.

Exceptions:
  • Temporary absence
  • Serving in military overseas
  • Birth or death of child
  • Kidnapped child
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit

Child must have lived with you for more than half the tax year.

Exceptions:

  • Temporary absence
  • Birth or death of child
  • Kidnapped child
  • Divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart
Credit for Other Dependents

Child must have lived with you for more than half the tax year.

Exceptions:

  • Temporary absence
  • Birth or death of child
  • Kidnapped child
  • Divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for the credit for the other dependents under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 972 for more information.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Child must have lived with you for more than half of the tax year.

Exceptions:

  • Temporary absence
  • Birth or death of child

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for the child and dependent care credit under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 503 for more information.

Head of Household

Child must have lived with you for more than half of the tax year.

Exceptions:
  • Temporary absence
  • Birth or death of child
  • Kidnapped child

Note: A dependent parent who doesn't live with you may still qualify you to claim head of household filing status under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

 Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents

Child must not provide over half of own support for the tax year but see rules for divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart.

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still be eligible to be claimed as dependent under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

Earned Income Tax Credit Doesn’t apply unless the child is married.
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Child must not provide over half of own support for the tax year but see rules for divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart.

Credit for Other Dependents

 

Child must not provide over half of own support for the tax year but see rules for divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart.

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for the credit for the other dependents under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 972 for more information.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Child must not provide over half of own support for the tax year but see rules for divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart and rule allowing custodial parent to claim credit when dependency exemption released to non-custodial parent.

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for the child and dependent care credit under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 503 for more information.

Head of Household

Child must not provide over half of own support for the tax year. Also, see rules for taxpayer paying over half the cost of maintaining the household.

Note: A person who doesn't meet this rule may still qualify you for head of household filing status under the rules for a dependent qualifying relative. See Publication 501 for more information.

Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents Child can have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN.
Earned Income Tax Credit

Child must have an SSN valid for employment and issued by due date of return (including extensions). SSN must not have been issued only for child to receive Federal benefit, such as Medicaid.

Note: An SSN issued to a child born in the U.S. is valid for employment.

Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit

Child must have an SSN valid for employment and issued before due date of return (including extensions).

Note: An SSN issued to a child born in the U.S. is valid for employment.

Credit for Other Dependents

Child can have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN.

Child and Dependent Care Credit Child can have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN.
Head of Household Child can have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN.
Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents Not necessarily, but see ‘Criteria: Must Child be U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, U.S. Resident or Resident of Canada or Mexico?’
Earned Income Tax Credit No specific U.S. citizenship requirement, but see ‘Criteria: Child’s Residency’ and ‘Criteria: Must child Have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN?’
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Yes
Credit for Other Dependents Yes
Child and Dependent Care Credit Not necessarily, but see ‘Criteria: Must Child be U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, U.S. Resident or Resident of Canada or Mexico?’
Head of Household Not necessarily, but see ‘Criteria: Must Child be U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, U.S. Resident or Resident of Canada or Mexico?’
Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents Yes
Earned Income Tax Credit No specific U.S. citizenship requirement, but see ‘Criteria: Child’s Residency’ and ‘Criteria: Must Child Have an SSN, ITIN or ATIN?’
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit No.   See ‘Criteria: Must Child be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or U.S. Resident?’
Credit for Other Dependents No. See ‘Criteria: Must Child be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or U.S. Resident?’
Child and Dependent Care Credit Yes
Head of Household Yes
Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents Yes
Earned Income Tax Credit No, non-custodial parent can't claim the EITC
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Yes
Credit for Other Dependents Yes
Child and Dependent Care Credit No, non-custodial parent can’t claim the credit
Head of Household No, non-custodial parent can’t claim this filing status
Tax Benefits Basic Eligibility Requirements
Dependents None
Earned Income Tax Credit

Schedule EIC if claiming credit with a qualifying child

Form 8862 (Spanish version of Form 8862) only if EITC previously disallowed

Paid Preparers only: Form 8867 (Form 8867 Instructions)

Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit

Schedule 8812 (Schedule 8812 Instructions) if claiming the ACTC

Form 8862 (Spanish version of Form 8862) only if CTC/ACTC or ODC previously disallowed

Paid Preparers only: Form 8867 (Form 8867 Instructions)

Credit for Other Dependents

Form 8862 (Spanish version of Form 8862) only if CTC/ACTC or ODC previously disallowed

Paid Preparers only: Form 8867 (Form 8867 Instructions)

Child and Dependent Care Credit

Form 2441 (Form 2441 Instructions)

Schedule 3

Head of Household

None

Paid Preparers only: Form 8867 (Form 8867 Instructions)

 

1Student defined

 To qualify as a student during some part of any 5 calendar months of the year (the 5 calendar months don't have to be consecutive); your child must be:

    • A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, or
    • A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described above, or by a state, county or local government agency.

Full-time student. A full-time student is a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time attendance.

School defined. A school can be an elementary school, junior or senior high school, college, university, or technical, trade, or mechanical school. But, an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet doesn't count as a school.


Vocational high school students. Students who work on “coop” jobs in private industry as a part of a school's regular course of classroom and practical training are considered full-time students.


2Permanently and totally disabled

Your child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply:

    • Your child can not engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition
    • A doctor or government agency determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least 12 months or can be expected to result in death

3Adopted Child

An adopted child is always treated as your own child. This term includes a child who is lawfully placed with you for legal adoption

4Foster child

A foster child is a child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction. An authorized placement agency includes a state, the District of Columbia, a possession of the United States, a foreign country, an Indian tribal government, or an agency or organization that is authorized by a state, the District of Columbia, a possession of the United States, a foreign country, an Indian Tribal Government, or a political subdivision of any of these to place children in foster care.