Parents often ask this question when dealing with their divorce. When minor children are involved, a custody schedule will eventually be established and the parents will no longer file taxes jointly with each other. Therefore, the dependent tax deductions and corresponding child tax credit become an issue as both parents attempt to lay claim to them. The ensuing discussion applies to children, not relatives.
The answer to the question is found in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Section 152 of the IRC provides four main criteria in determining whether a taxpayer qualifies to claim a child as a dependent. These factors are: relationship, age, residency, and support.
- Relationship. The child must be a son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter of the taxpayer or a descendant of such a child.
- Age. The child must be under the age 19 or be a full-time student under the age of 24 as of the close of the calendar year. This does not apply to permanently and totally disabled children.
- Residency. The child must have the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of the taxable year.
- Support. The child cannot have provided over one-half of his or her own support for the calendar year.
If these criteria are met, you can claim the child as a tax deduction along with the corresponding child tax credit. Note that the information provided herein is not intended as tax advice. Please seek the independent advice of tax counsel with regard to your own circumstances.
Finally, there are special rules where two or more people claim the deduction for the same child. If one of the claimants is the child’s parent, that parent gets the exemption. If both claimants are the child’s parents, the parent with whom the child resided for the longest period of time during the taxable year gets the exemption.
Dallas C. Simkins