Form 8839

Qualified Adoption Expenses

What is a 8839 Form? The 8839 form, also recognized as "Qualified Adoption Expenses," is a tax document used by U.S. taxpayers to claim adoption-related expenses. The purpose of this form is to assist individuals and couples in offsetting the significant costs associated with the adoption process through available tax credits and exclusions. This includes expenses like adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses, and other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child.

Who Needs a 8839 Form?

Not everyone will need to fill out an 8839 form. Here's who does:

  • Taxpayers who have incurred adoption expenses in the process of legally adopting an eligible child.
  • Employees who have received adoption assistance benefits from their workplace.
  • It's also important to note the deadlines associated with Form 8839, which align with your annual tax return filing deadline, typically April 15.

How to Read and Understand 8839 Form

Understanding the 8839 form involves several key components and terms:

  • Part I focuses on information related to the child being adopted, including identifying information and whether the child is a special needs child, as that can impact the credit amount.
  • Part II deals with the actual expenses incurred and paid in the tax year, detailing qualified adoption expenses.
  • Common terms include "Special Needs Adoption," "Foreign Adoption," and "Qualified Adoption Expenses."

How to Get Your 8839 Form

The 8839 form can be directly downloaded from the IRS website. For ease, here's a direct link to the IRS page for downloading 8839 forms. Ensure you're downloading the form for the correct tax year, as it may undergo changes.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common errors include:

  • Mismatch in social security numbers or legal names. Double-check all personal information.
  • Incorrectly calculated expenses. Ensure that only qualified adoption expenses are included.
  • Filing for the wrong year. Be clear on which tax year the expenses were paid.

Preventing these mistakes involves careful review and verification of all entered information on the form.

8839 Form and Tax Filing

The 8839 form has a direct impact on your tax filing and potential refund. It's vital to:

  • Understand how adoption credits work. These can reduce your owed taxes, potentially leading to a refund.
  • Realize the role of employer-provided adoption benefits and how they're reflected in your tax filings.
  • Consider professional tax advice if your situation is complex.

FAQ Section

1. What qualifies as an "eligible child" for the 8839 form? An eligible child is under 18 years old or is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

2. Can I claim adoption expenses for adopting my spouse's child? No, expenses related to adopting a spouse's child aren't eligible for the adoption credit or exclusion.

3. How does the special needs designation affect the adoption credit? If deemed "special needs," you might be eligible for the maximum credit amount, regardless of actual expenses.

4. What's the limit on adoption credit for the tax year? The limit changes yearly. Refer to the current year's 8839 instructions for specific limits.

5. Can I carry forward unused portions of the adoption credit? Yes, if your credit exceeds your tax liability, you may carry forward the unused credit for up to five years.


Adopting a child is a noble and significant life event that comes with its own set of financial challenges. The 8839 form is a vital resource for those looking to mitigate some of those financial burdens through the adoption tax credit. It's crucial to accurately complete this form, fully understand the qualified expenses, and meet the IRS criteria to maximize the benefits. Consulting with a tax professional can provide clarity and ensure you're making the most of the available tax benefits.

For those seeking more detailed guidance or the latest updates on Form 8839, the following resources are invaluable:

Engaging with these resources, understanding the nuances of the 8839 form, and recognizing the valuable role it plays in the tax filing process post-adoption can significantly ease the financial aspects of enlarging your family through adoption.

Always refer to the IRS website or a tax professional for the most accurate and up-to-date information. provides general information and software tools for tax preparation; however, it does not offer personalized tax, legal, or professional advice. It's recommended to consult with a qualified professional for specific advice related to your financial situation.