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Frequently Asked Tax Questions

Filing Requirements/Status/Dependents/Exemptions - Dependents & Exemptions


Rev. date: 1/2010


I am adopting a child and do not yet have a social security number for the child. How can I claim the exemption for the child?

previous topic occurrence Adoption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Foster Child next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence No Social Security Number next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Social Security Number next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Social Security Numbers for Dependents next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Tax Law Changes next topic occurrence

Parents in the process of a domestic U. S. adoption who do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child's Social Security Number (SSN) should request an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) in order to claim the child as a dependent and (if eligible) to claim the child care credit.  Form W-7A (PDF), Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, is used by qualifying taxpayers to obtain an ATIN.
If the child is not a U. S. citizen or resident, use  Form W-7 (PDF), Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, to obtain an ITIN. For more information, refer to  Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Rev. date: 1/2010


My husband and I have provided a home for my niece and her son for the past seven months. She receives no child support from her ex-spouse, and she does not work or have any income of her own. Can I claim her and her son as dependents?

previous topic occurrence Child Support next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Living Together Tax Issues next topic occurrence

In order to be your dependents, your niece and her child must meet the following tests:
  1. Qualifying child or qualifying relative tests
  2. Dependent Taxpayer test
  3. Citizenship or resident test
  4. Joint return test

Rev. date: 1/2010


Is there an age limit on claiming my children as dependents?

previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence

Age is a factor in the qualifying child test, but a qualifying relative can be any age.
As long as the following dependency exemption tests are met, you may claim him or her:
  1. Qualifying child or qualifying relative test
  2. Dependent taxpayer test
  3. Citizenship or resident test
  4. Joint return test

Rev. date: 3/2010


How do you claim a child if you agree with your ex-spouse to claim him 6 months and he claims him the other 6 months of the year?

previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Dependent Custodial Parent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Divorced or Separated Spouses/Parents next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Ex-spouse next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
Joint Custody

The dependency exemption can not be split. Generally, the child is treated as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of the custodial parent. This parent is usually allowed to claim the exemption for the child if the other exemption tests are met.
However, the child may be treated as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of the noncustodial parent if certain conditions are met:
Refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information or Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, for more information on the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents.

Rev. date: 1/2010


My wife and I are married filing separately. We have one son and we meet all of the dependency exemption tests. We contributed an equal amount to our son's support and want to know if we both can claim him on our separate returns?

previous topic occurrence Exemption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Married Filing Separately next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Separate Return next topic occurrence

A dependency exemption may only be claimed on one return.

Rev. date: 3/2010


My husband and I were separated the last 11 months of the year and our two children lived with me. My husband provided all the financial support. Who can claim the children as dependents on the tax return?

previous topic occurrence Child Support next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Married Filing Separately next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Separate Return next topic occurrence
Support Test for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents

Since your children lived with you for the greater part of the year, you are considered the custodial parent and you are the parent who is eligible to claim them as dependents on your tax return if the other dependency tests are met.
Refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information or Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, for more information on the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents.

Rev. date: 1/2010


If you pay child support, are you allowed to deduct anything on your taxes or claim the child as an exemption?

previous topic occurrence Child Support next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent next topic occurrence

Nothing can be deducted for the child support payments.
You may be able to claim the child as a dependent.

Rev. date: 1/2010


Can a court order determine who may claim a dependency exemption for a child? Does the court order supersede the IRS requirements?

previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Dependent Custodial Parent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Divorced or Separated Spouses/Parents next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent next topic occurrence

Federal law determines who may claim a dependency exemption.

Rev. date: 1/2010


My son was born on December 31st. Can I claim him as a dependent? If so, will he be also qualified for the Child Tax Credit?

previous topic occurrence Child Tax Credit next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Child and Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence

If your child was born alive during the year, and the dependency tests are met, you may take the full exemption.

Rev. date: 1/2010


My daughter was born at the end of the year. We are still waiting for a social security number. Can I send in my return and later supply the social security number for her?

previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence No Social Security Number next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Social Security Number next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Social Security Numbers for Dependents next topic occurrence

If you file your return claiming your daughter as a dependent and do not provide her social security number on the return, the dependency exemption will be disallowed.
You have two options.
You could file your income tax return without claiming your daughter as a dependent.
The other option is to file a Form 4868 (PDF), Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Rev. date: 1/2010


My child was stillborn. He died right before he was delivered. Can I claim my child?

previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence

You cannot claim a dependency exemption for a stillborn child.

Rev. date: 1/2010


If I claim my daughter as a dependent because she is a full-time college student, can she claim herself as a dependent when she files her return?

previous topic occurrence Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption for Dependent next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Exemption/Support Issues next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Full-time Student next topic occurrence
previous topic occurrence Student next topic occurrence

If you claim your daughter as a dependent on your income tax return, she cannot claim herself on her income tax return.