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This was a question that came up at book club:

Parent 1 claimed child as dependent in odd numbered years

Parent 2 claimed child as dependent in even numbered years

The year the child turned 18 and graduated and child support ended on 18th birthday, both parents claimed child as he became full time college student.

The year was an even year but parent 2 did not provide support other than partial year child support and some college funds.

Which parent was in error claiming the child? No one had the answer. I suggested a tax preparer be consulted.

FC365
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This was a question that came up at book club:

Parent 1 claimed child as dependent in odd numbered years

Parent 2 claimed child as dependent in even numbered years

The year the child turned 18 and graduated and child support ended on 18th birthday, both parents claimed child as he became full time college student.

The year was an even year but parent 2 did not provide support other than partial year child support and some college funds.

Which parent was in error claiming the child? No one had the answer. I suggested a tax preparer be consulted.


You gave good advice. The exemption goes to the custodial parent unless that parent agrees to allow the noncustodial parent to take it.In the case of shared custody, the exemption goes to the parent who had custody for the greater portion of the year (even if it was only one day). What will happen in this case is that the first parent to file will get the exemption until the second parent files. Then the IRS will contact both parents and will award the exemption to the appropriate parent.

Ira
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As the child was a college student, they're still a qualifying child:
Criteria for a qualifying child, so they need to check the agreement they made during the divorce.

In absence of such an agreement, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent (custody for more than half the year).

Here's an overview of the rules:
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch03.html#publink100032193

Then look lower down for the section titled "Children of divorced or separated parents" for more details.
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Criteria for a qualifying child, so they need to check the agreement they made during the divorce.

In absence of such an agreement, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent (custody for more than half the year).


An important nit to pick since it shows up so often. The IRS wasn't a party to the divorce decree, nor was Congress. For Federal tax purposes, the custodial parent controls the exemption. Period. The noncustodial can claim the exemption only by producing a release signed by the custodial parent. See Publication 501. (This can be handled right in the decree, but you'd be amazed how many divorce lawyers know nothing about tax law.)

A wronged noncustodial parent who can't wring the required statement out of the custodial parent may have redress in state court, but not with the IRS.

Phil
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This is excellent information. Thank you to you all!

I put the question out to TMF folks because I thought there may some "free" advise for her before the expense of a tax preparer. I was right! It appears a consultation would be a good investment. I will pass this on to the parent in our book club.

FC365
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