Claiming a Child
Who gets to claim a child when you get separated or divorced? I want to claim our children on my tax return. Does father or mother get to claim the children?
When you’re separated or divorced, it’s not always clear or automatic to determine who gets to claim a child as a dependent. Claiming a child as a dependent can be advantageous to the claiming parent.
As of January, 1, 2019, the personal exemption for claiming a child has been eliminated in favor of a higher standard deduction. So, claiming a child as a dependent will no longer give you an exemption to reduce your taxable income. Still, you can receive other tax breaks, including child or dependent tax credits, the Earned Income Credit, and a more favorable filing status, when you claim a child.
The Custodial Parent versus the Noncustodial Parent
It’s common for the custodial parent – the parent who has the child more than half the year with – to claim the child as a dependent. But the noncustodial parent may claim the child as a dependent if he or she provided more than half of the child’s support in a given year.
If there’s any doubt about who will claim the child, it’s best to communicate with the other parent before you both file your tax forms. When both parents claim the child, only the first filed return will be accepted.
Agreement be the Custodial and Noncustodial Parent
The noncustodial parent may also claim the dependent if the parents have agreed to in their divorce papers, a separation agreement, or a written declaration which states that the custodial noncustodial parent can claim the child.
If no divorce or separation decree states that the noncustodial parent may claim the dependent or there is no written declaration from the custodial parent, tiebreaker rules are in effect. The parent who the child spends the most time with may claim the dependent. If the child spends equal time between both parents, then the parent with the highest adjusted gross income may claim the dependent. If only one of the taxpayers is the child’s parent, that parent may claim the dependent.
Releasing and Revoking Claims for a Dependent
If you have no divorce or separation decree, the custodial parent – the parent who has the child more nights out of the year – can sign IRS tax form 8332 or a written declaration to release their dependency claim. Either document may be only for one year or for several years. The custodial parent has the right to revoke IRS tax form 8332 or their written declaration at any time and reclaim the child as a dependent. In short, add IRS tax form 8332 to your return when you claim a child that the other parent has released, or to revoke your prior release of the child as a dependent.
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