New Family Tax Credit for “Other Dependents” May Reduce Your Tax Bill in 2018

For years now we have had the Child Tax Credit (CTC) a $1,000 refundable credit for those dependents that we claim that are qualifying children.  Now there is another credit that takes some of the disadvantages of the CTC and addresses them in the form of an additional credit to reduce your tax bill.

The new Family Tax Credit for “other dependents” could result in a decrease of your tax bill, even for those who have phased out the CTC because their children are age 17 or older.  The credit is also helpful for those that are a part of the sandwich generation and are supporting aging parents who qualify as dependents.

Basics of the Child Tax Credit

The biggest benefit of any credit is that it is a credit.  A credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax bill.  By contrast, a deduction only reduces your taxable income. A good illustration is for someone in the 25% tax bracket, a $1,000 deduction only results in a $250 reduction to the tax bill.  This credit, on the other hand, reduces the tax bill by $1,000. A deduction for individuals in the 25% tax bracket would need to be $4,000 to have the equivalent effect. I know, for at least now through 2025 we don’t have the 25% bracket anymore, but the math works out well for illustration purposes.  In 2018, the Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 per qualifying child.

To be eligible for the CTC, taxpayers must have qualifying children to claim as dependents (special rules apply to parents of children who are divorced) on their tax returns.  To be qualifying, the children must live with the taxpayer more than half the year, the taxpayer must provide more than 50% of the child’s support and the child cannot be older than 16 years of age.   The credit also phases out in increments as income increases.

In addition, the Child Tax Credit is refundable, meaning even if there is no tax due on a tax return, the taxpayers could receive a check from the government for the amount of their tax credit. In 2018, the refundable portion is limited to $1,400.

The New “Family Tax Credit” for Other Dependents

Taxpayers have long been able to claim those they have supported throughout the year and who have met certain criteria, but while we have been able to continue to claim our children after they have reached the age of 17, the credit has not been available.  If you go through as much milk in a week as we do in our household, you would be happy to take any credit you can get!

The new “Family Credit” is $500 and is nonrefundable. The same thresholds required to claim someone as a dependent apply to those who may qualify for this credit.

New Phaseout Thresholds

Income thresholds have often left two-income families that live in high locality rate locations at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for credits.  Think places like DC Metro Area, urban California, New York, etc. These locations often have high salaries, but the cost of living, local taxes, and expenses are also high.  The new tax law increases thresholds and limitations for qualifying for the increased child tax credit.

Tax Filing Status        Max AGI for Full Credit    AGI for  Full Phase Out

Single                                       $200,000                               Over $240,000

Married filing jointly            $400,000                               Over $440,000

Head of household                $200,000                               Over $240,000

Married filing separately    $200,000                               Over $240,000

Elimination of Dependency Exemptions

While the new CTC, Family Tax Credit, and increased thresholds are good news, what isn’t good news is your taxable income is going up, even if you didn’t earn any more money in 2018.  Before, taxpayers were entitled to a dependency exemption of over $4,000 (which was set to increase to $4,150 in 2018) for each person on the tax return. So, a family of four would have had a reduction of their taxable income of $16,600 in 2018, even if they didn’t itemize.  Remember earlier when we were talking about deductions versus credits? That is the same as a $4,150 credit (dollar for dollar reduction in the tax bill) for someone in the 25% tax bracket. Now, the personal exemption is GONE.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has some great new changes, there are others that may cause a bigger pinch than some realize.  I fully recommend that everyone take advantage of the calculators on and prepare for the changes that are coming.

Do you expect a bigger refund or a bigger tax bill for 2018?

4 thoughts on “New Family Tax Credit for “Other Dependents” May Reduce Your Tax Bill in 2018

  1. This is great news! I am assuming this will mean that we will now get a credit even if our kid is over the age of 16? Funny you should say something about milk. We go through 1-2 gallons of milk every day!

  2. Wow- so we aren’t the only family keeping the dairy farms in business! Yes, even if your child is over age 16 you will qualify for a credit if the other criteria are met!

  3. How does this work with divorced families? My ex per our decree gets to claim my children as dependents on his tax return. However they live in my home 60% of the time, we pay for all of my son’s medical bills which is substantial, and cover more than 50% of their living expenses. Can I claim them on line F “credit for other dependents” because of the expenses we incur having them in our home while my ex can still claim them as CTC on line E on his return? (My ex only pays $750/month in child support and while we are supposed to split these medical costs pro rata and extra curricular, we currently pay these expenses 100% and have yet to see any of them reimbursed). I’ve searched all over for an answer to this but can’t seem to find anything regarding divorced families.

    1. Your divorce decree should address these issues. Only one parent may claim a child as a dependent/for a credit – either the child tax credit or the other dependent credit (those over age 17 and meet other criteria). It sounds like you are the custodial parent and as such should complete a Form 8332 for your ex to claim them. It is up to you whether you would like to fight your ex’s right to claim them in court.

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