When it comes to married couples filing state and federal income taxes and claiming their minor children as dependency exemptions, there is typically no dispute. A married couple usually files joint tax returns and is entitled to all of the benefits that dependency exemptions can bring them. When a couple separates or divorces, however, particularly around tax time, a major dispute can occur over which parent is entitled to claim the child.
Under federal tax law, both spouses cannot claim the same child as a dependency exemption if they file separate tax returns. For spouses who are still married, the better choice may be to file a joint tax return, claim the children, and share any proceeds. On the other hand, for spouses who are legally separated or recently divorced, filing a joint return is no longer an option and, as a result, they must decide which spouse is entitled to claim the child or children.
IRS regulations state that normally, the parent who has provided primary housing for the child for the year is the parent who is entitled to claim the child as a dependency exemption for income tax purposes. However, there are circumstances in which a noncustodial parent can claim the child, if he or she has provided more than half of the child’s financial support for the tax year. Many times, a court order will give the noncustodial parent the right to claim the child for certain tax years. In this situation, a noncustodial parent must file a separate form, IRS Form 8332 – Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Separated or Divorced Parents, signed by the custodial parent, in order to be able to claim the child.
Claiming children on income taxes can be a sensitive financial issue for both parents. Many times, individuals facing legal issues such as these need advice from an experienced California family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates, we are dedicated to helping families through these difficult times. Call us today or contact us online and listen to the advice that we have to offer.