Chris Craig's Blog

Attention Adoptive Parents! Trying to File Your Taxes with an ATIN? Here’s What You Need to Know About Claiming the Child Tax Credit for 2018

Tax season is officially upon us—and whether you diligently file as soon as your W2s roll in or find yourself up late trying to knock them out on April 14th, there’s no escaping this yearly chore. Filing taxes can be overwhelming and confusing at the best of times, but the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” has made it even more challenging for adoptive parents.

An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is issued for tax purposes when a social security number is not available or has yet to be issued for an adoptive child. This typically happens when families are waiting for the final steps of adoption so they can apply for a social security number based on the child’s new birth certificate—a process which can be drawn out.

Why can’t I file with an ATIN?

Families with adopted children who are filing for the Child Tax Credit may be running into an issue that recently came to our attention: as of the 2017 tax reform law, the IRS is no longer accepting an ATIN for claiming the Child Tax Credit.

Now through 2025, only a social security number can be used to claim the enhanced credit, which has been increased and made refundable.

Why is this rule a problem for adoptive parents?

As a temporary taxpayer identification number, the ATIN has allowed families to claim their adopted children as dependents and receive the incredibly helpful Child Tax Credit as they wait for adoption to be finalized. By disallowing parents from using the ATIN, parents will not be able to claim children without a social security number on their taxes, prohibiting them from receiving a tax credit designed to offset the added costs of raising children.

Additionally, to claim the Child Tax Credit, the social security number must be issued before the due date of the tax filing (April 15 or October 15 for extension)—which precludes families from filing an amended return at a later date when a social security number has been issued.

What should I do now?

The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) is currently working with their Washington, DC lobbyist to raise awareness for adoptive parents as well as find options to help address the issue.

Because there does not appear to be a specific reason for ATINs to be excluded, we are hoping additional options will become available. In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your adoption attorney to discuss options and help strengthen our cause in DC.

The original policy change seems to have been made to exclude people filling for the Child Tax Credit with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, with ATINs unintentionally being impacted. Because there does not appear to be a specific reason for ATINs to be excluded, we are hoping additional options will become available.

In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your adoption attorney to discuss your options—a greater awareness of families this will impact can also strengthen our cause in DC. While you may not be able to expedite the adoption finalization, there may be steps you can take to help ensure you have secured your child’s social security number prior to October 15th so you can claim the Child Tax Credit.

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