Last week, the President signed into law S.1614, the Accuracy for Adoptees Act, helping adoptive children who had been given inaccurate birthdates abroad. This bill was proposed and shepherded by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA), a national association for which I am the chairman of the legislative committee.
The law addresses a common problem when children are abandoned at orphanages without any birth record. When U.S. adoptions are processed, the foreign country assigns a “best guess” birth date that is then used in processing adoption and immigration paperwork. These birth dates can sometimes be vastly inaccurate. While there is an existing state court process in the U.S. where these families can present medical, educational, and dental evidence to support a request for an amended date of birth that is appropriate for the child’s true age, U.S. agencies will not accept these amended dates.
The Accuracy for Adoptees Act solves these problems by requiring federal agencies to recognize amended birth dates as issued by state courts. This bill removes the bureaucracy, red tape, and endless dead ends that these families currently face.
For more information about the law, its passage, and the implications for adoptive families, see the AAAA press release on the law’s passage as well as a recent USA TODAY article “Law aims to address adoptees’ birth date problems.”
The Washington Post recently published an article about the advocacy efforts of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA), a national association for which I am the chairman of the legislative committee. Our association recently hired a new lobbyist to advocate for improvements in adoption law.
AAAA was active in pushing to make the adoption tax credit a permanent part of the tax code in the fiscal cliff deal reached in December of last year. One of our current priorities is to establish a national registry to help locate and notify birth fathers of adoption proceedings. With the registry, men could register their name and contact information into a confidential database and would be notified of any attempts to terminate their parental rights, or of adoption proceedings for children they may have fathered.
If interested, please take a look at the full article through the link below: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/family-law-attorneys-lobby-for-improvements-to-adoption-process/2013/03/15/b93f7c28-8d00-11e2-9f54-f3fdd70acad2_story.html
Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article about the financial impact of adopting a child. In my role as an adoption lawyer, I was interviewed for the story. During the interview, I explained the importance of making a financial plan and setting an adoption budget when looking to adopt. A budget can help avoid paying unnecessary expenses or falling for adoption scams.
In addition, there is financial assistance available to adoptive parents to help offset the cost of adopting, such as the federal adoption tax credit. Congress extended the tax credit in the recent fiscal cliff legislation and I’ve covered it in a number of prior posts on my site here and here, among others.
If interested, please take a look at the full article through the link below: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323452204578287961483250712.html
Early in February, I was once again a guest on the Creating a Family radio show. The show is a weekly one hour internet radio podcast covering topics related to adoption and infertility. Similar to my last appearance, I was invited to talk about the Adoption Tax Credit for 2013. I appeared with the shows host Dawn Davenport and Josh Kroll, the adoption tax credit expert at the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
To learn more about our discussion, you can read the highlights of the show and listen to the full podcast (recording) of our conversation.
The adoption expense tax credit has been around since 1997, but it was set to go out of existence at the end of 2012. Fortunately, a part of the fiscal cliff legislation, passed by Congress and signed by the President on January 2, 2013 made the adoption tax credit permanent. (American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 [Pub. L. No. 112-240])
All of the ground rules remain the same as they were for the year of 2012 except that the amount of the maximum credit will increase, as will the numbers that define the lower and upper limits of income eligibility. All three of these numbers are adjusted each year in accordance with the cost of living. The maximum credit for 2013 will be $12,970 (up from the 2012 number of $12,650) and the full credit will be available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of $194,580 or less. The credit will then phase out completely at an AGI of $234,580.
All of the other features remain intact, including:
- the ability to carry the credit forward in order to use it up,
- the ability to claim a flat credit (without the need to show actual expenses) for the adoption of a special needs child, and
- the ability to claim the credit in the case of a failed adoption attempt.
There is one limitation as the permanent tax credit is not refundable. It was refundable during 2010 and 2011 due to a provision of the health care legislation. Since this provision was not in the 2001 legislation (Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act) that was just made permanent, it is not a part of the current law.
A few weeks ago, I appeared on the Creating a Family radio show to discuss the refundable Adoption Tax Credit for 2011 and 2012. I appeared with host Dawn Davenport as well as Megan Lindsey of the National Council for Adoption and Josh Kroll of the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
If you want to learn more, please read the highlights of the show and take a listen to the recording.
The National Law Journal recently published an article on changes to the DC adoption process over the last 15 years. The article speaks to the greater efficiences in the current process, both through internal reforms and legislative changes. As an attorney who has practiced law in the District for 26 years, I am quoted in the article. The Children’s Law Center, also quoted in the article, has gratiously provided a link to a PDF of the full article here.
Read the article online (login required) or download a PDF.
On December 14th, I spoke with Dawn Davenport on her Creating a Family radio show. Our conversation focused on the Adoption Tax Credit. Take a listen – we covered some great information. Additionally, for another resource, take a look at Creating a Family’s FAQ page on the Adoption Tax Credit.
Link to the Adoption Tax Credit Radio Show
The adoption tax credit is adjusted each year based upon the cost of living allowance. The adjusted numbers have been published by the IRS in Revenue Procedure 2011-52. The maximum credit for 2012 will be $12,650. The full credit will be available to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $189,710 or less and the amount of the available credit phases out to zero as modified adjusted gross income approaches $229,710. It will not be a refundable tax credit in 2012.
Recently, I prepared a paper for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a national association of 330 attorneys who practice and distinguish themselves in the field of adoption law. The meeting took place in Savannah, Georgia from May 4 to May 5.
My paper addressed changes to the adoption tax credit and the ramifications going forward. For more information, read the full paper here: Adoption Tax Credit is Alive and Well – Mark McDermott