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Here was her situation...she remarried, had two children, and they divorced. That was more than twelve years ago and they both had an agreement that each of them would claim one of the children as a dependent. On top of claiming the one child, my mother also got an earned income credit for this child. In late June of last year, she died, and both children are still minors. In early July, they both moved in with their father. How does the dependent thing work at this point? Since she had the children living in her house for more than half the year, I would assume the agreed upon dependents would still hold true...right? How about the EIC for the one child?

My condolences on the loss of your mother. Frankly, I don't know the answer to your questions. There's lots of information about the birth or death of a child during the year, but nothing about the death of the parent. I suggest you use the e-mail question feature on the IRS website, providing specific dates for her death and the move to the father's house, plus information about what was going on with the children between those dates.

I make the following assumption based on your verbiage: both children lived with your mother, but by agreement the dependency exemptions were split between her and the father. (If only one child lived with your mother, ignore the rest of this.)

You said that she qualified for the EIC for "this child." If she was claiming the EIC based on only one qualifying child, she was cheating herself. A qualifying child need not be a dependent; the child merely must live with you. If my assumption is correct, she should have been claiming the EIC based on two or more qualifying children.

If she underclaimed her EIC in prior years, her personal representative can amend the 1997-1999 returns to claim the increased credit and refund. The deadline for amending a timely 1997 return is 4/15/2001.

Phil Marti
VITA Volunteer
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