Unlike some countries, the United States does not provide tax relief for expectant mothers prior to giving birth. But the mother-to-be should aware of the significant tax accommodations awaiting her once the child is born. This policy is different than in countries with more socialized health care and other public benefits--in the United Kingdom, for example, pregnant women receive a payment of about $196 (£125) after the 25th week of pregnancy, and the government deposits about $392 (£250) into a trust fund redeemable by the child when he reaches 18.
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The threshold determination for parental tax relief is classification of your child as a "qualifying child." To meet the requirements of this category, your child must have lived with you more than half the year except for the year in which the child is born, in which case the child is treated as having lived with you the entire year if your home was the child's home since birth. This means your new child will generally be a qualifying child for the entire tax year in which it is born. A child born in the first half of the year, however, will not provide retroactive deductions to the mother for her pregnancy during the previous tax year.
Having your first child may qualify you to file as "head of household." This generally gives you a lower tax rate than single or married-filing-separately status. To qualify as a head of household, you must have a qualifying person living with you more than half the year for whom you provide more than half of the cost of living. A newborn qualifying child will presumptively meet this definition in the year of birth.
Claiming dependents on your tax return allows you to exempt a certain amount from your taxable income. In 2009, each dependent exempted $3,650 from federal income taxes. As an expectant mother, you can plan on taking this deduction in the tax year in which her child is born. You must, however, register the child for a Social Security number with Form SS-5, or a tax identification number with Form W-7, to claim the child as a dependent on your taxes.
Child Tax Credit
For a qualifying child you list as a dependent, you can also claim the child tax credit. Unlike an exemption, a tax credit is a direct reduction in the dollar amount of your federal income tax. In 2009, the child tax credit was $1,000 per qualifying, dependent child. There are additional qualifications for claiming the child tax credit, however. You must earn at least some income--$3,000 in 2009--but your adjusted gross income must not exceed a certain amount--$75,000 for a single mother in the 2009 tax year. For more information in the child tax credit, see IRS Publication 972.
Child Care Credit
Under certain circumstances, you can also claim a credit for care purchased for your dependent, qualifying child. If you pay someone who is not your dependent for child care so you can work or look for work, you are likely eligible to claim a tax credit for that expense. The limit for the child care credit was $3,000 for a single qualifying child or $6,000 for two or more children in 2009. The actual amount of your credit, however, is based on your adjusted gross income. For more information, see IRS Publication 503.