What Happens if the Wrong Parent Claims a Child on Taxes?

Navigating the Complexities of Child Dependency Claims

When it comes to claiming children as dependents on tax returns, the rules can be intricate, and errors can lead to complications. If you find yourself in a situation where the wrong parent has claimed your child as a dependent, it’s crucial to understand your options and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.

Understanding the IRS’s Tiebreaker Rules

In cases where both parents claim the same child as a dependent, the IRS applies a set of tiebreaker rules to determine which parent is eligible to claim the exemption. These rules prioritize the custodial parent, who is typically the parent with whom the child resides for the majority of the year.

Tiebreaker Rules for Divorced or Separated Parents:

  • If the parents are divorced or separated, the child is generally considered the qualifying child of the custodial parent.
  • However, exceptions may apply if all four of the following conditions are met:
    • The parents are divorced or legally separated.
    • The child receives over half of their support from the parents.
    • The child is in the custody of one or both parents for more than half of the year.
    • The custodial parent signs a written declaration relinquishing their claim to the child as a dependent, or a pre-2009 divorce decree or separation agreement specifies that the noncustodial parent can claim the child.

Tiebreaker Rules for Parents Who Live Apart:

  • If the parents live apart but are not divorced or separated, the child is considered the qualifying child of the parent with the higher adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • However, if the child’s time is split equally between the parents, the tiebreaker rule defaults to the parent with the higher AGI.

Steps to Take if the Wrong Parent Claims Your Child

1. Contact the IRS and Explain the Situation:

  • Inform the IRS that another individual has erroneously claimed your child as a dependent.
  • Provide documentation supporting your claim, such as a copy of your divorce decree or proof of residency with the child.

2. File a Paper Tax Return:

  • If your electronic tax return was rejected due to a duplicate claim, you must file a paper return.
  • Include a statement explaining the situation and provide supporting documentation.

3. Request an IP-PIN for Future Protection:

  • Obtain an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP-PIN) from the IRS.
  • This unique number will prevent unauthorized individuals from claiming your child as a dependent on future tax returns.

4. Gather Evidence to Prove Your Dependency Claim:

  • Collect documents that demonstrate your child’s residency with you, such as school records, medical bills, or utility bills.
  • Keep track of expenses related to your child’s support, such as food, clothing, and healthcare.

5. Cooperate with the IRS Investigation:

  • The IRS may initiate an investigation to resolve the dispute.
  • Provide all requested information and documentation promptly.

Legal Considerations

In some cases, the wrongful claiming of a child as a dependent may constitute fraud or tax evasion. If you suspect malicious intent, you may consider legal action. However, it’s important to note that the IRS generally does not consider unintentional errors as fraud.

Additional Resources

Navigating the complexities of child dependency claims can be challenging, but understanding the IRS’s tiebreaker rules and taking the appropriate steps can help you resolve the issue and ensure that you receive the tax benefits you are entitled to. Remember to document your claim thoroughly, cooperate with the IRS, and seek legal advice if necessary.

What happens if the non custodial parent claims child on taxes?


What if my ex illegally claimed my child on taxes?

In California, claiming a child on taxes without the other parent’s consent is considered illegal. You can use this information in your child support case as it is relevant to the determination of child support. However, you may need to seek legal advice on how to properly present this information in court.

How does the IRS know who the custodial parent is?

How does the IRS know who the custodial parent is? For tax filing purposes, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for more than half the year. The residency test for qualifying children accounts for this requirement.

Which parent has the right to claim child on taxes?

You can claim a child as a dependent if he or she is your qualifying child. Generally, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the longer period of time during the year.

What happens if two parents claim the same child?

When both parents claim the child, the IRS will use tiebreaker rules to determine which parent gets the dependent. The parent who does not qualify to claim the dependent will have to file an amended return and could even be audited, so it’s better to communicate and decide who will claim the dependent.

Who can claim a child on a tax return?

Here’s what you need to know about who can claim the child on their tax return: TurboTax Tip: A custodial parent can agree to allow a non-custodial parent to claim their child as a dependent, but the permission must be given in writing by signing IRS Form 8332 or similar document.

What happens if both parents file separate tax returns?

If the child’s parents file separate tax returns, the situation can get messy when both parents try to claim the same child. Once a tax return is filed with a dependent’s tax ID number, the IRS will not accept another e-filed return with that same dependent even if the first return is amended to remove the dependent.

What happens if a parent E-files a child’s tax return?

So, if a parent tries to e-file a tax return claiming a child that has already been claimed for the year, the return will be rejected by the IRS. It will be as though the return was never filed. Any subsequent tax return for the same tax year with the dependent’s tax ID number on it will have to be paper-filed.

Can a custodial parent claim a child on a tax return?

If you are the custodial parent and have not released your claim to the kid via Form 8332, you are the only one who can claim the kid on a tax return. This is what tax law says; the divorce decree may say something else but again, the IRS doesn’t care about the divorce decree. So what do you do in this situation?

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