Raising children surely isn’t cheap, but the IRS knows this, and has found ways to alleviate some of the tax strain that parents face. There are numerous credits and breaks that parents can benefit from, whether it be child care tax credits or education deductions, and figuring out which parental tax benefits you qualify for can greatly improve your financial status.
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The Value of a Dependent
When you claim your son or daughter as a dependent, just how much of a tax break are you getting? A fair chunk of change. In 2015, a dependent meant sheltering $4,000 of your income from taxes. While this rate changes if you have higher adjusted gross incomes—upwards of $258,250 if filing single or upwards of $309,900 if filing jointly—you also lose out on exemptions if you qualify for alternative minimum taxes. You can claim your child as a dependent and qualify for the exemption until your child is 19, or 24 if they’re in school. However, if your child has a permanent disability, this age restriction is not applicable.
Child Tax Credit
If you’ve recently had a baby, or will within the year, you’ll also qualify for a child tax credit. Each child born provides a $1,000 tax credit each year until they’re 17. This credit is applied to your tax bill, meaning you’ll see a reduced bill come tax season. This credit doesn’t apply to couples that file jointly with income of $110,000 or higher, or to single filers that make above $75,000. This credit is also refundable, so if the credit exceeds your income tax liability, the IRS will issue a refund check with the difference. To qualify for this tax credit, the child must be your own, a stepchild, or a foster child, and must live with you for more than half of the year.
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Child Care Credit
If you pay for child care that enables you to work, you’ll earn a credit that can fall anywhere between $600 and $1,050 for one child under the age of thirteen, and anywhere from $1,200 to $2,100 if you’re paying for the care for two or more children under the age of thirteen. Your individual credit break will depend on how much you make, and how much you’re shelling out for said child care.
If you choose to adopt, the government provides a hefty tax credit. In 2015, this credit was worth as much as $13,400, as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $201,010. Certain expenses that qualify for this credit may include travel expenses, meal expenses, and court and attorney fees paid during the adoption process. This credit is nonrefundable, however; if it exceeds your actual tax liability you won’t receive a check.
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Lifetime Learning Credit
As higher education continues to get more expensive, determining how to offset excessive education expenses becomes a necessity. Many families use private student loans, while others take advantage of government-subsidized loans. The Lifetime Learning Credit can reduce a tax bill on a dollar-for-dollar basis. To qualify, you must have paid bills for post-secondary school during the past year, but these classes don’t necessarily need to mean you’re working for a degree. These education bills could be for you or a dependent.
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Consider Hiring a Tax Professional
If you’re having a hard time figuring out which tax breaks and reductions you qualify for, don’t attempt to file on your own. It could be more than worth it to spend a little bit of extra money and know you’re getting the best return possible—plus the peace of mind is more than a little tempting for busy parents. Check out the tax resolution services here and get some professional tax advice before filing—it could save you big time.
Parenthood is more than rewarding, but the financial strain that comes along with raising children can be stress-inducing. Take advantage of the tax breaks the IRS has designed for tax-paying parents and save more money than you thought possible.