The following Q&A provides information to taxpayers who need a taxpayer identification number for a child who has been placed in their home pending final adoption.
Q: What is an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number?
A: An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a temporary taxpayer identification number for the child in a domestic adoption where the adopting taxpayers do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child’s Social Security Number (SSN). The ATIN is to be used by the adopting taxpayers on their Federal Income Tax return to identify the child while final domestic adoption is pending.
Q: Who needs an ATIN?
A: If you are in the process of adopting a child and are able to claim the child as your dependent or are able to claim a child care credit, you may need an ATIN for your adoptive child.
Q: Why do I need an ATIN?
A: Recent tax law changes require that when you list a person’s name on your federal income tax return, you must provide a valid identifying number for that person. During the adoption process, you may not have been able to obtain an existing or a new Social Security Number (SSN) for the child who may already have been placed in your home. If you are eligible to claim the child as your dependent, and you don’t have the child’s SSN, then you will need to request an ATIN in order to claim the child as a dependent and ( if eligible) to claim the child care credit.
Q: How do I know if I should apply for an ATIN?
A: You should apply for an ATIN only if you are in the process of adopting a child and you meet all of the following qualifications:
- The adoption is a domestic adoption.
- The child is legally placed in your home for adoption by a authorized adoption agency/agent.
- The adoption is not yet final, and you are unable to obtain the child’s existing SSN or you are unable to apply for a new SSN for the child pending the finalization of the adoption.
- You qualify to claim the child as a dependent.
Q: Can I get an ATIN if I am adopting a child from another country?
A: No. You should apply through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a valid SSN. When you are adopting a foreign child, upon the child’s entry into the United States you should receive enough documentation from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to satisfy the Social Security Administration’s requirements for a SSN.
Q: I meet the requirements to apply for an ATIN. What form do I use to apply?
A: The Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending Adoptions, is used by qualifying taxpayers to obtain an ATIN. To get Form W-7A, you may go to any IRS walk-in site or call 1-800-829-3676. You may also download the form from the IRS website here in Adobe PDF format.
Q: How long is the ATIN valid?
A: As soon as the adoption becomes final, the adopting parents should obtain an SSN for the child and notify the IRS of the new SSN. When the IRS is notified of a new SSN for the adopted child, it will deactivate the ATIN. If the adopting parents do not notify the IRS within two years, the ATIN will be automatically deactivated.
You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child (including a child with special needs). The adoption credit is an amount subtracted from your tax liability. Although the credit generally is allowed for the year following the year in which the expenses are paid, a taxpayer who paid qualifying expenses in the current year for an adoption which became final in the current year, may be eligible to claim the credit on the current year return. The adoption credit is not available for any reimbursed expense. In addition to the credit, certain amounts reimbursed by your employer for qualifying adoption expenses may be excludable from your gross income.
For both the credit or the exclusion, qualifying expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home), and other expenses directly related to and for which the principal purpose is the legal adoption of an eligible child. An eligible child must be under 18 years old, or be physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself. The adoption credit or exclusion cannot be taken for a child who is not a United States citizen or resident unless the adoption becomes final. An eligible child is also a child with special needs if he or she is a United States citizen or resident and a state determines that the child cannot or should not be returned to his or her parent’s home and probably will not be adopted unless assistance is provided. Under certain circumstances, the amount of your qualified adoption expenses may be increased if you adopted an eligible child with special needs.
The credit and exclusion for qualifying adoption expenses are each subject to a dollar limit and an income limit.
Under the dollar limit the amount of your adoption credit or exclusion is limited to the dollar limit for that year for each effort to adopt an eligible child. If you can take both a credit and an exclusion, this dollar amount applies separately to each. For example, if we assume the dollar limit for the year is $10,000 and you paid $9,000 in qualifying adoption expenses for a final adoption, while your employer paid $4,000 of additional qualifying adoption expenses, you may be able to claim a credit of up to $9,000 and also exclude up to $4,000.
The dollar limit for a particular year must be reduced by the amount of qualifying expenses taken into account in previous years for the same adoption effort.
The income limit on the adoption credit or exclusion is based on your modified adjusted gross income (modified AGI). If your modified AGI is below the beginning phase out amount for the year, the income limit will not affect your credit or exclusion. If your modified AGI is more than the beginning phase out amount for the year, your credit or exclusion will be reduced. If your modified AGI is above the maximum phase out amount for the year, your credit or exclusion will be eliminated.
Generally, if you are married, you must file a joint return to take the adoption credit or exclusion. If your filing status is married filing separately, you can take the credit or exclusion only if you meet special requirements.
To take the credit or exclusion, complete Form 8839 (PDF), Qualified Adoption Expenses and attach the form to your Form 1040 (PDF) or Form 1040A (PDF).