How Old Does a Baby Have to Be to File on Taxes?

Having a baby can bring a lot of new expenses into your life, from diapers to baby food to childcare. However, your newborn also can increase your tax refund when you claim your baby on your taxes. To prevent the Internal Revenue Service from disallowing your claims, make sure you follow the rules for how soon you can claim your baby on your tax return and provide the required information to verify your child's existence.


How Old Does a Baby Have to Be to File on Taxes
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Child Must be Born During the Tax Year

To claim a baby as a dependent on your taxes, the child must be born before the tax year ends. For almost all individual taxpayers, the tax year runs from January 1 until December 31. So, to claim a baby on your 2018 tax return, the baby must be born on or before December 31, 2018. If the baby is born alive and subsequently dies, you may still be able to claim the baby as long as the child was considered alive when he or she was born. However, if the child is stillborn, you cannot claim the child as a dependent on your taxes. If your baby is born on January 1, 2019, you can only claim the child starting on your 2019 tax return.


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Obtaining a Social Security Number

To claim a baby as your dependent on your taxes, the baby generally needs a Social Security number. According to the IRS, it typically takes the Social Security Administration about two weeks to issue a Social Security number. The agency recommends applying for your new baby's Social Security number when you're giving the information for the child's birth certificate in the hospital. If, however, the baby was born and died in the same year and therefore no Social Security number was issued, you can attach both the birth certificate and death certificate, or other hospital records proving the same instead.


Filing Tax Extensions

If you aren't able to obtain a Social Security number for your new baby prior to your filing deadline, you can file for an with the IRS. Every taxpayer is entitled to an automatic six-month extension of time to file a tax return just by filing Form 4868. However, that only extends the time you have to file your return, not the amount of time you have to pay your taxes. If you expect to owe money, consider making a payment with your extension paperwork so that you won't owe interest or penalties when you ultimately file your return once you've received a Social Security number for your newborn.