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Who Claims A Child On Taxes When There Is Shared Custody?

When parents separate or divorce, one of the most contentious issues is often the custody of their children. Apart from determining which parent will have physical custody of the child, a crucial question arises: who gets to claim the child as a dependent on their tax return? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has established tiebreaker rules for such situations, which are intended to provide guidance in determining who has the right to claim the child as a dependent. These rules can be particularly helpful when parents have shared custody of their children. In this article, we will explore the IRS tiebreaker rules for claiming dependents in shared custody situations.

The Same Dependent Cannot Be Claimed
By More Than One Taxpayer

The IRS enforces the “one taxpayer, one dependent” rule, which can complicate tax filings for couples who file separately. The rules allow each parent to claim a different child as a dependent, but tiebreaker rules apply if no agreement is reached.

Who claims the child on taxes when there is shared custody

The Custody Ratio Tiebreaker

When parents share custody of their child and cannot agree on who gets to claim the child as a dependent, the IRS has established custody ratio tiebreaker rules. Under these rules, the parent who has physical custody of the child for the greater part of the year – defined as more than 50% of the nights – typically has the right to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes. The custody ratio tiebreaker rule can be a helpful guideline for parents to follow when they are uncertain about who can claim the child as a dependent on their tax return.

The Income Tiebreaker

If a child lives with each parent for an equal amount of time, the IRS uses the parent with the higher AGI to determine who gets to claim the child as a dependent. This scenario could arise if the child lived with a relative other than the parents for a period of time, and the parents divided the remaining time equally. In such cases, the parent with the higher AGI has the right to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes.

Waiving The Right To Claim A Dependent

If the eligible parent chooses to allow the other parent to claim a child as a dependent, they can do so by filling out Form 8332. This form, called the Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, allows the custodial parent to release their claim to the exemption and transfer it to the other parent. Once completed and signed, the parent who claims the child must attach this form to their tax return as proof that they have the right to claim the dependent.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced child custody lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a divorce can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By: MFL Team

Posted March 13, 2024

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