2016 vs. 2017 Child Tax Credit Qualification and Income Thresholds

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The IRS announced the child tax credit (CTC) will remain at $1,000 per child in 2016 and 2017. Families must have at least $3,000 in earned income to claim any portion of the credit and can receive a refund worth 15 percent of earnings above $3,000, up to $1,000 per child. The table below shows the maximum income levels for getting the full CTC payment


The CTC payment works as a deduction and credit. The deduction component means it is not fully refundable and only reduces your tax liability. So if the amount of your Child Tax Credit is greater than the amount of income tax you owe then you may not get the entire CTC. But you may still be able to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) which is the refundable component of the child tax credit (but treated as a separate payment). The ACTC is equal to the lesser of the un-allowed Child Tax Credit, or 15% of your earned income that is more than $3,000.

For example a couple, with one qualified child, who filed jointly with household income of $85,000 will receive the full CTC of $1,000 since their income is above $3,000 but less than the maximum income thresholds for married couples. Another example is a single mother with two children earning $14,500. She will receive a refund of $1,725 for two children (15 percent of $11,500 – which is the difference between $14,500 and $3,000).

The updated income thresholds for  CTC qualification are shown below, which have remained unchanged for the last several years. See more from Turbo Tax where they outline 7 Requirements for the Child Tax Credit

YearMax Tax Credit AmountIncome Thresholds (reduced/phased-out by $50 for each $1,000 of income above the income threshold)
2017$1,000$110,000 (joint return), $75,000 (individual) and $55,000 (married, filing separate)
2016$1,000$110,000 (joint return), $75,000 (individual) and $55,000 (married, filing separate)
2015$1,000$110,000 (joint return), $75,000 (individual) and $55,000 (married, filing separate)

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2017 EITC and ACTC Related Tax Refund Delays: The IRS has already announced that it will have to hold/delay refund payments for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) due to additional anti-fraud safeguards/reviews under newly enacted laws (PATH Act). While the IRS will continue to accept returns claiming EITC and ACTC the new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming these popular credits, even if you have claimed it successfully in past years, until Feb. 15th 2017. Refund payments will subsequently be delayed past the current schedule up to the week of Feb 27th, 2017 or later (assuming all other items are in order). Also note that the IRS is required to hold  the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. Note however that this refund hold only applies to the Additional Child tax credit. Not the standard Child tax credit.

The threshold for the other child related tax credit, known as the kiddie tax – meaning the amount of unearned net income that a child can take home without paying any federal income tax was is $1,050.  For 2017, the net unearned income for a child under the age of 19 (or a full-time student under the age of 24) that is not subject to “kiddie tax” is $2,100.

Child Tax Credit Qualification rules

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) covers children under 17 years-old and is available to tax paying parents or legal guardians on the child. Full CTC eligibility is subject to income limits as shown in the table above. The IRS has published additional information around claiming this credit via one or qualifying children. A Qualifying child for this credit is someone who meets the following criteria of six tests: age, relationship, support, dependent, citizenship, and residence:

  1. Age Test – To qualify, a child must have been under age of 17 (i.e. 16 years old or younger) at the end of the year in which the credit is being claimed for.
  2. Relationship Test – To claim a child for purposes of the Child Tax Credit, they must either be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of these individuals, which includes your grandchild, niece or nephew. An adopted child is always treated as your own child.
  3. Support Test – In order to claim a child for this credit, the child must not have provided more than half of their financial support in the given financial year the credit is being claimed for.
  4. Dependent Test – You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return. No one else can claim the child.
  5. Citizenship Test – To meet the citizenship test, the child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien.
  6. Residence Test – The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year you are the claiming the credit for.
  7. Income Limitations – The credit is limited if your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. Limits are shown in the table above based on filing status. The credit is reduced/phased-out by $50 for each $1,000 of income above the income threshold amounts.  The phaseout ranges are set by statute and so are not adjusted for inflation.
  8. In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax you owe as well as any alternative minimum tax (AMT) you owe.
  9. Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) – If the amount of your Child Tax Credit is greater than the amount of income tax you owe, you may be able to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The ACTC is equal to the lesser of the un-allowed Child Tax Credit, or 15% of your earned income that is more than $3,000.

The Child tax credit can be claimed in addition to the existing credits (like the EITC) for Child Dependent Care expenses.

[2014 Update] This IRS has confirmed that the 2014 Child tax credit will remain at $1,000 through 2014.

[2013 Update] For 2013, the Child Tax Credit was set to drop to $500. However with the fiscal cliff deal the child tax credit maximum for each eligible under-age-17 child was kept at $1,000 for 2013 and also extended through 2017. The deal also contains provisions to make the 2013 Child Tax Credit available to more working families that previously could not benefit from it by raising income qualification thresholds, which are not indexed to inflation and instead set by statute.


For 2012 the child tax credit started phasing out (reducing) for those above a specified modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). For married taxpayers filing a joint return, the phase-out begins at $110,000. For married taxpayers filing a separate return, it begins at $55,000. For all other taxpayers, the phase-out begins at $75,000. The credit is reduced/phased-out by $50 for each $1,000 of income above the income threshold amounts.

In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax you owe as well as any alternative minimum tax (AMT) you owe. Other qualification details for the credit, per the update below, are set to remain the same.

As part of bush-era tax cuts extension legislation (Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Re-authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010), a number of popular tax breaks were extended. This includes the valuable tax credit for dependent children that many parents have taken advantage of over the last few years. Thanks to past legislation the child tax credit was doubled to its current level of $1,000, plus making the eligibility and qualification thresholds lower so that more families can take advantage of it. The latest legislation keeps all past rules intact and funds the credit for another two years.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki July 22

MY daughter turned 17 may 30th of 2017 and is a student does that qualify for child tax credit

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mary June 6

I don’t get it, we are responsible for our children until they reach 18, then why is the cut off at 16? Are they not a child at 17?????

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J April 9

My girlfriend earned less than 3000$ can she still get child credit?

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Ratheesh April 9

I was a resident alien and lived first 4 months of 2016 in US along with my son and wife. Then I moved to another country. Am I eligible to claim child tax credit, as all of us were present in the country only for 4 months?

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Gabe March 24

Why has the child tax credit stayed at $1000. Why hasn’t it gone up with the cost of feeding kids?

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Wendy benge March 7

My daughter it’s 16 she earned 2900.00 $ at her job if she files herself and I claim her as a fitment dependent Will I still get the 1,000.00 earned income credit for her

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Rachelle Adams February 10

I am a mother if three and i got the earned income credit i claimed my 3 kids and myself and they are ages 5…2…1 will i get 1000 back each of them if i didnt claim the child tax credit? Worried cause we are so far behind on things and tthe money would help alot. Pkease help me

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Rob82960@gmail.com February 3

What if the dad lives in nh and doesn’t live with them can he claim them.

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Amy January 31

I’m due March 25th 2017,can I filemy 2016 taxes for my baby I’m a single parent.

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JRP February 4

no child has to be born by December 31 at 11:59 pm in order to be included on your taxes for that year

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Ashley Stell February 4

No. Child has to be alive for 6 months of the year you are fild for. So for 2016 they would have to be born before august

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Mike February 25

This is not correct. If the kid is born 12/31/2016, you get to claim them on your 2016 return the same as if they were born before 2016.

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Yiussef February 26

No it allowa u to put 7 months uf baby was born in oct nov or dec it say it in the child tax form …

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lee January 31

will my taxes be on hold since my son is 17 and I don’t get the eic credit

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gail hunter February 2

We are wondering the same thing, we normally use turbo tax, it doesnt even give a section to enter her age. But she turned 17 , Jan 14 2016 and is just now a senior in high school, I believe as long as our children are in school we should be about to get the eic credit.

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Sommer January 30

Is it worth filing if I only made $1004.02 and have 3 dependents? Can a relative claim one of my children?

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Trisha January 29

I am a mother of 1 and am not with the father, we have no legal documentation of custody rights. We both want to file, is that possible? A split return?

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AnonymousDad January 29

If both of you try to claim the child for the credit, the IRS will flag and return both of your tax returns. You are far better off deciding between which one of you should claim the credit, and, if you agree to split the credit after that point, the one who receives the full amount of the return can cut the other a check. In some states (Illinois is one), a judge can award the right to claim the credit to a parent on an every-other-year basis. Even years, it’s Dad, odds, it’s Mom.

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Vicki January 26

My grandson turned 17 Oct. 30, 2016. Can I still claim him on my taxes.

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Andy (Author) January 26

You can claim him as dependent (assuming he does not file his own return and is your qualified dependent). But you would not be able to get the CTC for him.

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zykevinron January 22

My daughter turned 17 on December 26, can I get the child tax credit of $1000

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Andy (Author) January 24

No, she would fail the age test – “Age Test – To qualify, a child must have been under age of 17 (i.e. 16 years old or younger) at the end of the year in which the credit is being claimed for.”

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Sherry January 17

My son didn’t turn 17 till December why can’t I get tax credit of the $1000

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julia quinn September 23

Practical blog post ! I was fascinated by the details . Does anyone know where I might get ahold of a fillable a form document to fill out ?

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Gianna walker August 27

I’m a singel mom of 3, my oldest is 17. Still I’m school. I’m not understanding why I can’t claim him if he’s a student n lives with me and I support him.

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Steve January 16

You can claim him, you just don’t get the Child Tax Credit because, even though he is a dependent, he is no longer a “child” in accordance with this credit per the laws passed by Congress.

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missy March 8

Hi im a 26yr old divorced woman with 2kids my oldest is in school an my youngest will be 3 in may an will be starting head start soon i make $8 an hr 40hrs a week so around 15,500 a yr i don’t get any child support. Can u give me a estimated amount of how much i will get back when i file next January2016 for this yr??

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Mickey Thomas February 16

Depending on how old your first child is, and how much they took out your voucher cks for taxes.. Around 7-9 thousand… Use hnr block tax calculator it’s very accurate…

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Amber February 17

i am helping a family who has 4 kids in full time schooling. She claims the 15, 10 & 7 year old so she gets the child tax credit but was told she couldn’t claim the 18 year old even though he is a junior in high school and not working. He worked two months during the summer for minimum wage. She receives govt assistance for him but was told she couldn’t or shouldn’t claim him. We want to do what is legally right and with hopes it will hep the family. In addition does he haveto file on his own. Again, he’s living at home and a full time student. Thanks

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Steve January 16

Legally, assuming he doesn’t provide over half of his own financial support, his mother can and should claim him. He won’t qualify for the Child Tax Credit because he turned 17 in 2016 or earlier, but she can still claim him as her dependent. Whoever told her she can’t claim her oldest is mistaken. However, truth be told, he probably won’t save her anything because all of her federal tax liability will have been eliminated. You can see the effect of him being on her tax return by preparing the return without him and see what her refund will be. Then add him in and see if the refund changes. Chances are it won’t.

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Tracy Lynn George February 15

I am 36 ..well 35 in December. 2014..I am a single mother. Of a single1 year old
Son..he was born in February28-2014 and. My. Baby daddy went to jail for battery in the2nd degree against me while I was 8 months pregnant ..too keep roof over my son’s and is head I kept my house house cleaned and laundry done ..since I had. New baby and no paying job. I have moved into a friends house..got a job making 7:25 .hr and never get over my20 hours per weekk.I do good to get 8 hrs a week..I have foodstamps 316.00 a month and my bchoirs played our way to live at Robert…I now pay 60.00 every 2 weeks for child care. And been on the waiting list for government housing since September 2014…I’m still waiting to hear back from them…please let me know what if anything I can. Do to get earned income ..I am the one who tool care of hi…only me since my lol buddy.was born ..thanks Tracy George

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Danuelle January 22

I have had my godson for over half of the year, am I allowed to claim him?

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Andy (Author) January 23

See this article I wrote on claiming dependents. If he is filing and getting a tax return etc if may be hard for you to claim up. It depends on both your tax filing status’ otherwise the IRS may think you are double dipping!

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zoraida December 29

I made 15500 I have 5 independent I’m head of household 3 are still in school under 16 about how much will I get back on my income tax

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Katherine January 23

I have 3 children 2 are which are still in school and the other in college we were only allowed to claim our youngest what about kids still in school and you still have to pay for their meals, clothes and schooling why did they change the law where you cant claim your 17 or 18 year old still in school.

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Patricia December 29

I have two kids in school who live with me. My daughter just turned 17 on December 4, 2011 and is in 11th grade in highschool.

My son is 18, a 12th grade highschool student. Will I be able to file tax credit for them both?

I only made $28,000 for the year……..I am head of the household

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Andy February 10

If you are claiming the child tax credit or additional child tax credit the sum of the two cannot be more than $1,000 multiplied by the number of qualifying children. Also, at least one dependent must meet the requirements for the child tax credit. Make sure that each dependent you claim:

Qualifies as a dependent
Is under age 17
Is a U.S. Resident

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