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Frequently Asked Tax Questions

Earned Income Tax Credit - Qualifying Child Rules

  1. Must I be entitled to claim a child as a dependent to claim the earned income credit based on the child being my qualifying child?
  2. If the custodial parent releases a claim to exemption for a child by signing a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement, may the noncustodial parent claim the child as a qualifying child for the earned income credit?

Rev. date: 10/30/2015

Must I be entitled to claim a child as a dependent to claim the earned income credit based on the child being my qualifying child?

You do not have to be entitled to claim the child as a dependent to claim the earned income credit based on the child being your qualifying child. However, the child cannot file a joint return for the year except as a claim for refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid. If your qualifying child was married at the end of the year, he or she cannot be your qualifying child unless you meet one of the following conditions:
For more information, refer to Qualifying Child in Publication 596, Earned Income Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Rev. date: 10/30/2015

If the custodial parent releases a claim to exemption for a child by signing a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement, may the noncustodial parent claim the child as a qualifying child for the earned income credit?

Generally, no. The noncustodial parent may not claim a child as a qualifying child for the earned income credit based on the custodial parent’s release of a claim to exemption for the child.
Note: For income tax purposes, the custodial parent is, generally, the parent with whom the child lives for the greater number of nights during the year.