Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number

An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number is a temporary number that parents can request from the Internal Revenue Service if they are in the process of legally adopting a child but can't obtain a Social Security Number for the child in time to file their tax return.

Parents can use the nine-digit identification number in order to claim certain child-related tax breaks on their federal income tax return.

Do I Need an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number?

You must have an IRS-issued number for a child if you wish to take any of the tax deductions and credits that the government offers to help reduce the financial burden of raising kids.

You can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) if the child has never had an SSN or if the child's SSN is unknown.

With the ATIN in hand, you can claim the child as a dependent on your tax return and also utilize the child tax credit and the child and dependent care credit, assuming you are otherwise eligible. The same is true for the adoption tax credit. Being able to take advantage of these tax breaks can save you thousands of dollars.

There's no need for an ATIN if the child already has an SSN. Be sure to ask the birth parents or the adoption agency if they have the child's SSN. The purpose of an ATIN is to serve as a temporary identification number, and the number expires after two years, with certain exceptions.

A Hypothetical Example

Let's say you're in the process of adopting a five-year-old child named Abigail whose birth parents abandoned her, and who now lives with you. You've tried to determine if Abigail has an SSN, and if so what her SSN is, but without success. Because you realize that your income tax deadline is fast approaching, you can request an ATIN so that you'll be able to claim the child as a dependent and utilize other child-related tax breaks when you file your federal income tax return.

How Do I Apply For an ATIN?

To obtain an ATIN, use tax form W-7A. It takes four to eight weeks to process your request, according to the IRS, so plan ahead by submitting the request early enough to avoid having to delay your tax return.

What If I am Adopting a Child from Another Country?

An ATIN is used in domestic adoptions and in certain international adoptions. If your international adoption does not qualify for an ATIN, experts recommend applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for the child, which can be done using tax form W-7.

Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number: Related Resources

For more information on adoption and taxes, see the following references.

Get Legal Help with Adoption and Taxes

Because it's easy to make costly tax blunders, it pays to plan carefully to make sure you don't miss out on any of the available tax breaks for your soon-to-be-adopted child. If you're uncertain whether to apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, consider asking the advice of an adoption attorney near you.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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