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Tax season issues related to child custody

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2018 | Child Custody |

It’s mid tax season. Early birds have already filed their taxes for 2017, while late risers have yet to get to the chore. One of the reasons that some Oklahoma residents haven’t filed yet may be that they have a complicated financial situation.

Parents who have recently divorced may especially have a few problems with tax time. Namely, they have to communicate about which parent can claim their child as a dependent. This problem can easily lead to the same kind of drama you thought ended with the divorce agreement.

For those with joint custody:

Unfortunately, only one parent can claim the child as a dependent for the year. Even if the child lived in two households and both parents paid the costs of raising them, they can only count as a dependent once.

Of course, both parents probably want or need the extra money from the tax return. Some divorcees argue, but planning ahead can prevent conflict. Parents can instead figure out a fair arrangement, which can help them prepare financially and avoid needless arguments.

For example, a father might declare his son as a dependent on even years, while the mother declares him on odd years. Alternatively, if there is an even number of children, each parent might declare the same half every year. Some divorcing couples even include splitting tax benefits in their divorce agreement.

For those with sole custody:

In sole custody cases, this matter should be simple. The parent with legal custody can claim their child as a dependent, which makes sense because they bear the burden of most child expenses.

However, the other parent may also attempt to claim the child as well. Sometimes this is a matter of confusion about tax law, but in other cases the parent might intentionally lie to the IRS in order to get a better tax return. This can create problems for both parents.

For those with tax return issues:

The IRS sees many cases of double claiming children each year. In fact, there are guidelines that indicate which parent is more entitled to the tax benefit. If you have questions about filing taxes as a divorced parent, do not hesitate to ask for legal guidance before contacting the IRS.