Although adoptive parents should always consult a tax specialist, it is true that families who adopt a child or teen with special needs from foster care can claim a federal adoption tax credit without needing to incur or document expenses. Children who are harder to place for adoption—older children (including teens of any age), children of color, sibling groups, and children with medical conditions or disabilities—are often determined to have special needs. For non-special needs adoptions, parents can claim the credit with the same rules, except that they have to document qualified adoption expenses. The per-child tax credit is $13,170 for adoptions finalized in 2010, and the credit is now refundable for the first time.
More specifics about the adoption tax credit can be obtained at the North American Council on Adoptable Children’s website: