By Steve Sherman, LL.B, CPA
Beginning in 2001, the US made the child tax credit refundable even if you owe no US tax. The credit is US$600 per child under the age of 17 for 2001-2003 and US$1000 per child for 2004 and 2005. You need to have earned income of at least US$10,750 to qualify for the credit. The refundable credit is tax free for Canadian tax purposes.
For example, if you have four qualifying children, you can receive US2,400 for 2002, US$2,400 for 2003, US$4,000 for 2004 and US$4,000 for 2005.
The year 2001 is now closed but 2002 returns can be filed or amended until June 15, 2006 and still receive the credit. Each child must be a US citizen or resident and have a social security number. For US citizens in Canada, you can download the application for consular birth form from the forms link on this website. The application lists all the documentation you will need to have. The cost for the certificate of consular birth is US$65. You can apply at the US consulate.
You can also apply for a social security number at the same time you are applying for the certificate of consulate birth by completing the one page form SS-5, also available at the forms link on this website or at www.irs.gov. Please bring your childs Canadian health card to the consulate whem applying for the social security number. Also, please remember to not bring food, your cellphone or any other electronics to the US consulate.