Having a child changes your life in countless ways, one of which is how you are taxed. New parents unlock several different tax breaks not otherwise offered which are designed to make raising a family financially easier. Here’s a look at a few of them.
If you adopt a child, you might be able to use the costs associated with the adoption to reduce your tax burden. Adoption tax breaks come in two forms: a tax credit and a tax exclusion for adoption assistance provided by an employer. These apply if the adopted person is under 18 or unable to care for themselves. In 2013, the overall amount was worth up to $12,970 per child.
Here’s how it works: In one example provided by the IRS, you pay $12,970 in adoption expenses. You receive $2,970 from your employer to help, which lets you reduce your gross (taxable) income by that amount. The remainder ($10,000) becomes a tax credit—so you owe $10,000 less in taxes.
If you pay for a child’s higher education at an eligible institution, you can probably deduct many of the expenses and fees involved. The IRS defines an eligible institution as “any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes virtually all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (privately owned profit-making) postsecondary institutions.”
Regardless of whether you take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions, you can adjust your taxable income by up to $4,000 by paying for the education of a dependent. Tuition and fees are deductible, but some expenses (such as room and board) are not.
In perhaps the simplest of all child-driven tax breaks, the child tax credit might let you “reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17,” per the IRS. There are several conditions to this credit, which are easy to meet for many, if not most, families. For instance:
A phase-out of the credit starts at the following income levels: $110,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, $55,000 for separately-filing married taxpayers, and $75,000 for everyone else.
This one’s a bit more complicated than the child tax credit, but can be just as rewarding. The EITC applies to some individuals with no children, but its amount scales up the more children there are in a family. In an IRS-provided example from 2013, a joint-filing married couple making less than $48,378 (in both earned an adjusted gross income) with two qualifying children could receive a $5,372 maximum credit. With three or more children, the maximum income goes to $51,567 and the maximum credit leaps to $6,044. Several more combinations work as well, so some research may be necessary to see if your family qualifies. Note: to receive the EITC, a family must have earned no more than $3,300 in investment income.
Having a child can be a wonderful, if stressful, experience. However, new parents can rest a bit easier knowing that there are new tax options open to them. Contact an R&G Brenner tax professional to see if you qualify for these tax exemptions, credits and deductions and new parents can spend more time enjoying their family, and less time stressing about their finances.