Department of Family Services – Children and Families

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Oriane Eriksen,

Foster Family News - Tax Deductions for Foster and Adoptive Parents

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Tax Deductions for Foster and Adoptive Parents

person using calculator and laptop computerDid you know that adoptive parents and foster parents may be eligible for some tax credits for the children in their homes? The Department of Family Services offers some general tax information for your awareness. We hope that you find it helpful, but since we do not employ tax experts, this information should not be solely relied upon for income tax preparation decisions.

Adoption Tax Credit

  • For adoptions finalized in 2019, the tax credit is $14,080 per child.
  • It is a one-time credit for each child and should be claimed when you file taxes for 2019.
  • It is not a refundable credit. You only benefit if you have federal income tax liability.
  • How much, if any, of the adoption tax credit you will use depends on your federal income tax liability in 2019 (and the next five years).
  • To claim the adoption tax credit, you will need to complete a 2019 version of IRS Form 8839 and submit it with your Form 1040 when you file your 2019 taxes.

For those with higher incomes, the credit phases out. For 2019, families with a modified adjusted gross income below $211,160 can claim full credit. Those with incomes from $211,160 to $251,160 can claim partial credit, and those with incomes above $251,160 cannot claim the credit.

You can claim the federal adoption tax credit even if you had no adoption expenses. For more information, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children at 651-644-3036, email or visit or

Claiming a Child in Foster Care on Your Taxes

According to the Internal Revenue Service Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information, foster parents may be eligible to claim each child in foster care they care for during the tax year who is eligible to be considered a Qualifying Child for one of the following tax benefits:

  • EITC
  • Dependency exemption for the child
  • Child tax credit
  • Head of household filing status
  • Credit for the child and dependent care expenses
  • Exclusion for dependent care benefits.

Certain tests apply: The child must have a valid Social Security number that is issued before the due date of the tax return (including extensions) and must pass all of the following tests to be a qualifying child to claim as a dependent:

Relationship: The child must have been placed in your home by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.

Age: The child must be under age 19 at the end of the year, a student under age 24 at the end of the year or permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, regardless of age.

Residency: The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year during the specific tax period (Jan. 1-Dec. 31).

Support: The child cannot have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year. Note: The foster care board rate you receive is considered support from the state - not from the child.

Joint Return: The child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.

IMPORTANT:  Only one person can claim the same child. If a child qualifies for more than one person and one of the persons is a parent or parents, the non-parent can claim the child only if their adusted gross income (AGI) is higher than the parent(s). If the child qualifies another relative and the parent AGI rules do not apply, the taxpayers choose. If more than one person claims the same child, IRS applies the tiebreaker rules. Read more about Qualifying Child of More Than One Person.

If you have specific questions regarding the preparation of your income tax return, please contact the IRS at or 800-829-1040. You can also discuss the matter with a tax preparation expert.

This article posting is part of the Foster Family News monthly newsletter designed to keep foster parents informed about all the new and notable happenings in Fairfax County.

Learn about what the Foster Care & Adoption program has planned for foster families - stay on top of trends, participate in trainings and learn about policy changes.

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