Because 2012 and 2013 are now closed tax years, you cannot receive any refund you were due for either year. BUT you can still amend your 2012 and 2013 taxes and claim the credit in order to carry any remaining benefit of the credit forward to 2014 and other open tax years. Any amount you would have received with your 2012 or 2013 taxes will be lost to you (for a 2013 adoption if you filed for an extension in 2013, you would receive any 2013 tax benefit up to October 15, 2017).

Claiming the Federal Adoption Tax Credit for 2012 or 2013

Updated April 2017

(If you finalized your adoption in a year after 2012 or 2013, please read the appropriate fact sheet using the links on the right or below.)

Did you adopt a child in 2012 or 2013? If you haven’t claimed the adoption tax credit for a 2012 or 2013 adoption, you may lose some or all of what you were due. If you did not have enough federal income tax liability to use the whole adoption credit in 2012 or 2013, you can carry any excess forward for five years (or until the credit is fully used, whichever comes first).

Because 2012 and 2013 are now closed tax years, you cannot get anything you were due for either year. But you can still amend your 2012 and/or 2013 taxes and claim the credit in order to calculate the amount that would be carried forward to future years that are still open. Any amount you would have received with your 2012 and 2013 taxes will be lost to you.

To claim the adoption tax credit for a 2012 adoption, you will complete a 2012 version of IRS Form 8839 and submit it with a Form 1040X to amend your 2012 taxes. (If you never filed for 2012, you would submit the Form 8839 with an original Form 1040 for 2012.)

Before filing, you should review the 2012 Form 8839 instructions carefully to be sure you apply for the credit correctly. The instructions contain a worksheet needed to calculate tax liability to see how much of the credit would have been used and lost for 2012. Whatever isn’t lost can be carried forward to 2013.

To claim the adoption tax credit for a 2013 adoption or the carry forward from a 2012 adoption, you will complete a 2013 version of IRS form 8839 and submit it with a Form 1040x to amend your 2013 taxes. (If you never filed for 2013, you would submit the form 8839 with an original 1040 for 2013.).

To claim anything you were due in 2014 to 2016, you will also need to amend or file taxes for those years. Both the form and instructions are available at irs.gov and in the Forms section of our web site.

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The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.

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