If you have kids, you’re allowed to claim them as dependents on your taxes.
This means if you and your former spouse are filing separately, you have to decide ahead of time who gets to claim the child as a dependent.
Claiming A Dependent Is Simple
Actually claiming a dependent is simple. As long as your child lived with you or you materially supported the child, that child is your dependent.
When you file your tax return, you simply indicate you have one person who was your dependent in the previous tax year. If you have several children, you may be able to claim several dependents.
Who Gets To Claim A Particular Child?
Determining who actually gets to claim the child may be more complicated. If a divorced couple only has one child, they may decide to alternate which parent claims the child on their own tax return.
Alternate arrangements may also be created during the divorce settlement as long as they adhere to all applicable laws. If a divorced couple has several children, one parent may claim any children under 16 as the deduction may be higher, while the other parent claims any child over 16.
Also, other arrangements may be made as long as both sides agree and no laws are violated.
Communication Is Key In Such A Scenario
The IRS will accept the first tax return that claims a child as a dependent regardless of any agreement between the two parties. Therefore, it’s important only the parent who’s entitled to make the claim does so.
If a parent who isn’t entitled to claim a child during a given tax year does anyway, he or she may be in violation of a divorce decree and face an audit.
If such a scenario arises, it may be necessary to get in touch with an attorney who specializes in divorce or family law like the Blumenauer Hackworth firm, to resolve the issue in a timely and reasonable manner.
In the event a parent mistakenly claims a child, it may be possible to simply allow the other parent to claim that child two years in a row, or otherwise compensate the other person for that mistake.
Claiming a child after a divorce is similar to claiming a child when you and your spouse were still together. You just need to make sure you’re the one who is supposed to make the claim. Don’t hesitate to ask if you’re unsure.
Click here to learn how to handle the unique tax challenges of the blended family.