These are questions we get frequently during tax time - “What do I do if my ex claimed the kids, and this was my year to claim them?” – “Can I claim my children even though they live with my ex?”
The rules on who can claim a dependent are a bit tricky in the situation of joint custody agreements or alternating tax year benefits. Here is what you need to know:
- A child can only be claimed as a dependent on ONE tax return in a tax year
- The rule is that generally, the custodial parent (the one the child lived with for the greater part of the year) is entitled to claim the dependent as a qualifying child
- State court orders do NOT automatically dictate who may claim a child on a tax return – federal tax law dictates who may claim a child as a dependent. This means that if a State court order states that a non-custodial parent is eligible to claim a child on all or certain tax years, an IRS Form 8332: Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent must be filed
- If a Form 8332 is filed, it should be attached to both parents’ tax returns
- Keep in mind that the Form 8332 allows a non-custodial parent to claim a child for the child tax credit or credit for other dependents, but it does not change the rules on who can claim a child for Head of Household status or the Earned Income Credit
If you have any questions about these rules, contact Bryson Law Firm, LLC today!