Can a noncustodial parent claim a child on their taxes?

by Elizabeth W. Kidd, CPA | Dec 19, 2018

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.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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