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What is the child tax credit?

The child tax credit is a per-child tax credit against your personal income tax liability. The child tax credit is $1,000 per child.

If you have a qualifying child under the age of 17, you may be entitled to claim this credit. A qualifying child may be a dependent child, stepchild, adopted child, sibling, or stepsibling (or descendant of these individuals), or an eligible foster child. The child must be a U.S. citizen or resident and must live with you for over half the year.

The child tax credit begins to phase out if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds a certain level ($110,000 for married persons filing jointly, $55,000 for married persons filing separately, and $75,000 for heads of household, widow(er)s, and single persons). The credit is reduced by $50 for each $1,000 that your MAGI exceeds the above amounts. To claim the child tax credit, you must file either federal Form 1040 or 1040A.

The credit is refundable, so you may be able to obtain a refund even if the credit exceeds your regular or alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability. Currently, the credit is refundable to the extent of 15 percent of your earned income in excess of $3,000, up to the per-child credit amount. Special rules may apply if you have three or more qualifying children and are eligible for the earned income credit (EIC).