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My wife and I are US citizens living in the United Kingdom, and we welcomed a baby girl in late December 2018.

I am working on my US taxes now (due June 15th for those residing abroad). Since this is my first time claiming the Child Tax Credit, I did not realize that the dependent child requires a Social Security Number in order to claim the credit.

We already registered my child's birth abroad at the embassy (for those criticizing me, she will have the ability to renounce it for free when she turns 18). However we did not receive a Social Security Number.

Is there anything I can do to still receive the Child Tax Credit? Does anyone know if I can put 000-00-0000 and fill in the number later?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

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    Your child would be a US citizen even if you hadn't registered her birth with the consulate. – phoog Jun 5 '19 at 21:19
  • @phoog I did not realize that. That is incredibly unfair – CodyBugstein Jun 5 '19 at 21:22
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    Most acquisition of most countries' nationality is automatic. – phoog Jun 5 '19 at 21:36
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    I would say that it is the tax law that is unfair, not the nationality law. – phoog Jun 5 '19 at 22:08
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    Note that even if your child had been born in the US, she would not automatically receive a Social Security number, although most hospitals will provide you with the form at the time of birth. – Mike Harris Nov 6 '19 at 21:49
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The Child Tax Credit requires that the child have a SSN issued before the tax return is due (including extensions). This means:

  • If the child gets a SSN before April 15, you can file the tax return with the child's SSN and claim the Child Tax Credit.
  • If the child will get an SSN after April 15 but before October 15, what you can do is: before April 15, request an extension to October 15, then after you get the child's SSN, file the tax return with the child's SSN and claim the credit.

If you file your tax return without the child's SSN, you become ineligible for an extension and will most likely be unable to claim the credit. (Amending your return later to claim the credit might be possible if you could prove the child's SSN was issued before the tax return was due but this is obviously much trickier than the ways I recommended above.) It should also be noted that Americans living abroad are eligible for an automatic extension to June 15 without requesting it ahead of time, provided you "include a statement showing that you meet the requirements." However, I would not recommend relying on this automatic extension because it's easy to avoid any doubt by requesting an extension explicitly.

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  • Taxpayers outside the US can also request an additional 2-month extension, to December 15th, but this is discretionary, which means that it is necessary to justify the extension and that the IRS may refuse to grant it. – phoog Feb 25 at 10:12
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You may be out of luck for this year. Here's the information from the IRS website.

Note: If you don’t have a TIN (taxpayer identification number) by the due date of your return (including extensions), you may not claim the child tax credit (CTC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC) on either your original or an amended return, even if you later get a TIN. Also, you may not claim the credit on either your original or an amended return for a child who doesn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions), even if that child later gets an SSN.

(Note: I expanded the acronyms in the IRS statement)

However, OP asked in a comment whether an extension would work if he could get his child's SSN by then. I turned up this FAQ from the IRS.

To summarize:

  1. File now, do not claim your child and later amend your return.
  2. File for an extension. You will still need to pay now any taxes that are due.

Question My daughter was born at the end of the year. We're still waiting for a social security number. May I file my return now and provide her social security number later?

Answer If you file your return claiming your daughter as a dependent and don't provide her social security number (SSN) on your return, the IRS will not allow you to claim her as a dependent.

You have two options:

You may file your income tax return without claiming your daughter as a dependent. After you receive her SSN, you may then amend your return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Generally, you have three years after the date you filed your original return or two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to amend your return. The other option is to file a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This option would give you an additional six months to file your return; by then you should have your daughter's SSN. However, any tax owed will be due at the filing due date without the extension.

In addition to the dependency allowance for your newborn, you may be eligible to claim the earned income credit (EIC) and/or the child tax credit/additional child tax credit (CTC/ACTC). Please note that you can't count your child as a qualifying child in figuring the EIC or claim the CTC/ACTC on either your original or an amended return if your child doesn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions), even if your child later gets an SSN. For more information about taxpayer identification number requirements, see the Instructions for Form 1040.

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  • Does this mean I can file for an extension and get it ? – CodyBugstein Jun 5 '19 at 18:06
  • Hmmm, maybe? Ah, I found another answer about that. Let me make an edit. – mkennedy Jun 5 '19 at 18:55
  • Actually this is very unclear: Please note that you can't count your child as a qualifying child in figuring the EIC or claim the CTC/ACTC on either your original or an amended return if your child doesn't have an SSN by the due date of your return (including extensions) Does that mean an extension does not help? – CodyBugstein Jun 6 '19 at 3:59
  • I think it just mean that if you still don't have the SSN by the extension's due date, or by the deadline to amend the return, you still can't claim the child. The previous paragraph which says you can amend or file an extension to try to get the SSN. – mkennedy Jun 6 '19 at 19:25
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    @CodyBugstein The "(including extensions)" works in your favor if you get an extension. You are probably aware that the Social Security Administration has an office in London to assist you. ssa.gov/foreign/foreign.htm#Uganda – Andrew Lazarus Jun 7 '19 at 21:40

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