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Form 8839 – Qualified Adoption Expenses 2022

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Understanding Form 8839: Adoption Tax Credit

Adoption is a rewarding journey, but it can be an expensive process. Fortunately, the federal government provides assistance to adopting parents via the adoption tax credit. Also known as the Qualified Adoption Expenses (QAE) form, allows you to claim this tax credit back on your tax return.
form 8839 qualified adoption expenses template
Form 8839 is a crucial document for parents who have adopted or are planning to adopt a child. This form allows you to claim the adoption credit, a tax benefit designed to offset some of the costs of adoption.
The adoption credit, as governed by federal income tax law, is a nonrefundable credit that can substantially reduce your tax liability. It applies to the qualified adoption expenses you have paid during the tax year for each eligible child. These qualifying expenses include necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses, and other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child.

Eligibility for the Adoption Credit

To qualify for the adoption credit, you must pay or have paid qualified adoption expenses for an eligible child. An eligible child is defined under federal law as an individual who is under 18 or is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

Notably, expenses related to a surrogate parenting arrangement, the adoption of a spouse’s child, and other provision of adoptions or funds that violate state or federal law are not considered qualified adoption expenses.

Filing Form 8839: Qualified Adoption Expenses

Understanding the intricacies of the form and the adoption tax credit can be challenging. Here are additional information and tips that can make your journey smoother:

  • Keep track of your expenses during the adoption process: Detailed records of all your adoption-related expenses are crucial. They provide proof of the costs incurred during the adoption process and can be beneficial if there are queries from the IRS. Expenses directly related to the adoption process, such as legal fees, court costs, travel expenses, and other associated costs can be claimed as qualified adoption expenses.
  • Seek professional tax advice: Adoption tax laws can be complex, and the consequences of making a mistake on the form can be costly. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek professional tax advice, especially if your situation is complicated. A tax professional can help you understand the finer details of the federal income tax law as it pertains to adoption and ensure you’re claiming all the credits you’re entitled to.

While the adoption credit is a significant financial benefit, it’s essential to understand its limitations. The credit is nonrefundable, meaning it can reduce your tax liability to zero, but any excess credit cannot be refunded. However, any unused portion of the credit can be carried forward to the next tax year.

For families adopting a child with special needs, additional considerations come into play. Under federal income tax law, a child with special needs is a child who the state determines cannot or should not be returned to their parent’s home and a special needs child who likely won’t be adopted unless assistance is provided. For qualified expenses for these adoptions, you may be eligible to claim the full amount of the adoption credit, regardless of the actual amount of paid qualified adoption expenses.

Filing the form involves several steps:

  • Identify your eligible child: The child must meet the age and capability criteria mentioned above.
  • Calculate your total qualified adoption expenses: Add up all the adoption expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child.
  • Check the income limits: The adoption credit is subject to income limitations. The credit begins to phase out if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds a certain threshold and is completely phased out at a higher income level.
  • Fill out: Report the necessary information on the form, including your total paid qualified adoption expenses, employer-provided adoption benefits, and any previous adoption credit carryforwards.
  • Attach the form to your federal tax return: Once you’ve completed the form, attach it to your Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

If your employer provides adoption assistance benefits, these can also affect your tax situation. Employer-provided adoption benefits are amounts your employer pays directly to either you or to pay a third party for qualified adoption expenses under a qualified adoption assistance program. You must report these benefits on the form and they are excluded from your gross income.

Easy to use

Our template simplifies the process of filing your tax return. All you need to do is fill in the necessary fields, and you’re good to go.


The template is designed following IRS guidelines, ensuring the information you provide is accurate and compliant with federal law.


Using the Fill template saves you time and effort, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your adoption journey.


Make sure to sign and date the form when you have completed it, as required by the IRS. By doing so, you are confirming that the information reported on Form 5329 is accurate to the best of your knowledge.

FAQ About Form 8839: Qualified Adoption Expenses

Yes, you can claim the adoption credit for a foreign child. However, the credit cannot be claimed until the tax year when payment for the adoption becomes final.
No, any expenses reimbursed by your employer, a federal program, or any other person or organization, cannot be claimed as qualified adoption expenses. Also, any qualifying expenses you claimed must be reduced by any employer-provided adoption benefits received under an adoption assistance program.
The adoption credit is nonrefundable, meaning it can only reduce your tax liability to zero. If the credit is larger than your tax liability, the excess can be carried forward to reduce your tax payment in future years.
If the credit exceeds your tax liability, the unused portion of maximum credit can be carried forward to the next year. This can continue for up to five years, or until the maximum amount of credit is fully used, whichever comes first.

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