Dealing with Dependents
It is possible for a child to qualify as a dependent for more than one person. When this happens, the taxpayers can decide between themselves who will claim the child as a dependent. If they cannot agree and more than one person files a return claiming the child, the IRS uses tie-breaker rules to determine which will claim the child.
If more than one person files a return claiming the child…
- and only one of them is the child’s parent, the child will be considered the parent’s dependent.
- and two of them are the child’s parents, the child will be considered the dependent of the parent with whom the child lived the greater portion of the year.
- and same as above BUT the child lived with each parent for the same amount of time during the year, the child will be considered the dependent of the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI).
- and none of them is the child’s parent, the child will be considered the dependent of the person with the highest AGI.
Children of Divorce
A child who receives more than half of his support from his parents during the year and is in the custody of one or both of them for more than half of the year is normally the qualifying child of the custodial parent.
However, the noncustodial parent can treat the child as his or her qualifying child or qualifying relative if all of the following apply:
- The parents are divorced, legally separated or lived apart alt all times during the last six months of the calendar year,
- One or both parents provide more than 50% of the child’s support for the year,
- One or both parents had custody for more than half the year, and
- The custodial parent signs a written declaration that he or she will not claim the exemption for the child for the tax year, and the noncustodial parent attaches the declaration to his or her return.
The release of an exemption by the custodial parent to the noncustodial parent following the above guidelines only applies for purposes of claiming a dependency exemption and child tax credit for the child.
- The release does not qualify the noncustodial parent for head of household status, the earned income credit or the child and dependent care credit.
- Regardless of a release, the custodial parent will still qualify for head of household filing status, the earned income credit or the child and dependent care credit if they would otherwise have qualified.
- A noncustodial parent may claim medical expenses paid for his child even if the custodial parent claims the child as a dependent.