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William Perez

Question about the Child Tax Credit

By March 10, 2009

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Parents often become accustomed to taking various deductions and credits related to their dependent children. It's good to keep in mind that the tax benefits related to children are gradually removed as the children become older. A case in point, the child tax credit stops once a dependent child turns 17 years old.

One reader who was diligently reviewing her tax return emailed me to ask,

"My husband and I just completed our Federal taxes and we came across something I'm not sure is right. We used Turbo tax and were told that because our daughter turned 17 during the year of 2008, (Dec.3) to be exact we could no longer qualify for the child tax credit. Is that correct? Even if she didn't turn 17 until 2 weeks before the year ended?"
In this case, the tax software correctly disallowed the child tax credit for this particular situation. For the purposes of the child tax credit, a dependent qualifies only if they are 16 years old or younger at the end of the year.

Here's some additional age limitations for dependents:

  • Age 12: last year to claim child and dependent care credit.
  • Age 16: last year to claim the child tax credit.
  • Age 19: last year to claim the child as a dependent, unless they are full-time students.
  • Age 23: last year to claim the child as a dependent if they are full-time students.
April 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm
(1) Doug says:

But, why 17 years old? I can’t throw her out of the house at 17. I’m required by law to house and feed her until she’s 18. Why not a child tax credit until 18?

February 24, 2010 at 9:09 am
(2) heidi says:

I agree with you Doug. Its sad.

January 24, 2011 at 8:42 am
(3) Robin says:

Can anyone answer the question, “why?” Cutting this off at the age of 17 makes no sense.

January 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm
(4) John says:

It’s just another way for them to take more of our money. They’re more than 4 million students that turned 18 before the end of last year and once you add that times $800 to $1000 per child, you can see what the goverment keeps to recover some of their wasteful spending. Lucky for them, they make sure that they are exempted from most of the laws applied to you and me. I never payed attention to it until now. My son turned 17 back in August, so we’re like so many others. And like us, your son or daughter still lives at home and may or may not have a job. If not, you have supported that child all year long and even until the end of this year unless they go to college which only approximately 34% will, the rest will join the work force and the goverment starts taking from themalso. Only those families with the new college student will recover any expenses, which won’t be a lot after you figure that only 11% of those students will actually receive enough scholarship money to cover most of the tuitions, books and extras needed to earn a 4 year degree, the rest comes from your savings, 401K or personal loans and/or student loans. So, only if and when, the people work together and confront the local politions and state representatives to change some of the things that have become costly for more than 73% of americans with chidren in school and living at home, will this be changed.

January 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm
(5) DAWN COLEMAN says:

Another way for the people to be screwed by the people who get Medical Expenses for life,paid by us !!! Most of them have no children at this age so they do not care !! But for our children that we have to pay for medical, prescriptions and everything when it is, already the two most expensive years of their lives, we get stuck trying to figure it out how to pay for SAT test and graduation !! But, when politicians are going to the doctor and get their ED medicine to chase the pages around the cabnit meetings, it’s on us !! Who decided 17 was a good age to do something so STUPIED ?? I did not vote for it, did you ???

February 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm
(6) Stacy says:

I just discovered this myself when I attempted to efile my taxes. My daughter turned 17 this year. My tax return was rejected twice because I was trying to claim the child tax credit before I figured out what the problem was. I am perplexed by this as well. My expenses have not gone down from last year to this year in regard to my daughter, so why should my tax credit?

February 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm
(7) William Perez says:

The child tax credit ends at age 16. At age 17, the child no longer qualifies the taxpayer for the child tax credit.

October 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm
(8) Tawnya says:

I was a bit surprised to find I could not claim the child tax credit because my son was 17 the end of 2012. I would love to know who came up with that age and why and have a discussion with them. I’m assuming it’s because they are able to work at 16. It is very hard to find a job where we live under age 18. You can’t even work at Toys R Us unless you are 18! I have to pay even more now that he is 17! I have to pay his car registration, inspection, gas, oil changes, etc. He tried and hasn’t found a job to ehlp with these costs and even if he did, it wouldn’t be enough to cover all these expenses in addition to school lunches, his clothes and spending money. This is BS!!!!

October 28, 2013 at 7:52 am
(9) sophie says:

My son is nearly 2 and my daughter if 6 months I havent claimed child tax credits for either child as I didnt know how to could I claim then now

November 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm
(10) Mary says:

I have twin children who turned 17 last spring. They are our 3rd and 4th children. I was aware of the age 16 cut off since the inception of this “credit” and adjusted my withholding in January for this very purpose. The age cut off is just outrageous! Age 17 is the MOST EXPENSIVE year for parents….senior pictures, yearbooks, ACTs, SATs, College Applications, fees for sending transcripts, etc. Our children both work & put gas in the car, save for college & have their own spending money. However, they cannot afford to pay $75 a pop for college applications & $50 for ACT and SAT exams. So, I charge it, as we don’t have the extra money, either. That said, the credit ending at 16, is B.S. I understand the rationale is that kids can work at age 16 and should be paying their own way, but that isn’t realistic. It doesn’t effect high wage earners who don’t qualify (or it would be changed) nor does it effect the poor (who already get varioius credits). So, middle income wage earners get screwed the most expensive year of their lives.

February 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm
(11) T says:


February 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm
(12) Hope says:

I am so upset about not getting a tax credit for my son who turned 17 October 20th. like the rest of you it’s the most costly year of there lives and I am responsible for him until 18. ALso you can
have a baby Dec 31st and claim all year!! that is all BS! I vote and I did not vote for this!

April 6, 2014 at 4:19 pm
(13) Diane says:

I want to know the names of our elected leaders that choose the age of 16 as the cut off. As a parent I still have to sign for consent on everything until 18, it should have been until the child leaves High School at least.

April 11, 2014 at 11:05 am
(14) Kenny says:

Stop crying.

When your parents were kids the credit didn’t even exist. It was implemented as a small break and capped about at around 250 bucks.

It’s funny that 10 years or so later and people are crying about having to give up a tax credit not constitutionally guaranteed to them anyways.

Stop complaining about 17k per kid handed to you for free because you didn’t get 18k.

April 11, 2014 at 11:07 am
(15) Kenny says:

YOU made the decision to have a kid. Not the government or the nations other taxpayers. Raising them is YOUR responsibility. You shouldn’t expect a free offset for the cost of raising a child.

* I have 3 beautiful daughters and a 27k annual income, so I know what it’s like being a parent strapped for cash.

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