Can a noncustodial parent claim a child on their taxes?

by Elizabeth W. Kidd, CPA | Dec 19, 2018
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When doing taxes, can a noncustodial parent claim a child on their taxes? My daughter’s father wants to claim her even though she lives with me. He doesn’t agree that it’s fair that I get to claim her, so he fights me about this. Should I contact the IRS to make sure he’s not sneakily trying to claim her when he legally shouldn’t be?

Under the changes in tax law as of 2018, there are no longer personal and dependent deductions. However, the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Credit use essentially the same definitions that had been used for a dependent to establish if the taxpayer has a qualifying child to claim those credits. If your child lives with you for more than half a year, they cannot be a qualifying child for the other parent. While I do not think that contacting the IRS would be productive, I encourage you to claim your child, file your taxes as early as reasonably possible, and file electronically. If you file electronically and your return is rejected because someone else claimed the child, you can then file a paper return claiming the child. This should result in an investigation by the IRS. 

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Answered by: Elizabeth W. Kidd, CPA, is a retired accounting instructor in Erie, Pa.

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