Can the Adoption Tax Credit Be Used if We’re Still Waiting?

by | Mar 9, 2018 | Adoptive Families Blog

couple-doing-taxes.jpgI heard that we can claim the Adoption Tax Credit even if we haven’t adopted yet. Is that true? We paid the expenses in 2016 and are pursuing domestic adoption. How do we claim adoption expenses when we’re still waiting to be chosen by a birth mother?  We don’t have a SSN or ATIN for a child.”

Yes, this is true! Unlike with international adoptions and foster care, you can file for the Adoption Tax Credit in multiple years with private domestic adoption.* You’re required to file only after you’ve paid the qualified adoption expenses. Once you finalize an adoption, you’ll then file the year expenses were paid.

For example: if an adoptive couple paid qualified adoption expenses in 2015, 2016, and 2017 and then finalizes their adoption in 2017, they will file for 2015 expenses on their 2016 taxes, and the 2016 and 2017 expenses on their 2017 taxes.

Domestic adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption is final are allowable as a credit for the tax year after the year of payment. This is true even if you didn’t adopt a baby or child, and also if your child’s adoption isn’t finalized yet.

The IRS has created this handy tool that you can utilize to see whether you’ll be able to claim the Adoption Tax Credit. You can find their interactive tax assistant at this link:

As of 2017, adoptive families can claim a credit of up to $13,750 in qualified adoption expenses! This news comes as a relief to many waiting adoptive families, who have been counting on the tax credit to defray some of their adoption costs. Please keep in mind, the amount of the credit you’ll be able to receive depends on your income and federal income tax liability.


If you have further questions about the Adoption Tax Credit and how it can help you, we encourage you to seek a licensed tax professional. You can also learn more by watching Lifetime’s webinar all about the Adoption Tax Credit.

*Source: Dave Thomas Foundation

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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