Do I really need to file the IRS form for the child tax exemption?

Do I really need to file the IRS form for the child tax exemption?

As tax season approaches, many single or divorced parents have questions about claiming the child tax exemption. Often times, a Court-ordered parenting plan will state that the parents will alternate the years in which each claims a child under the exemption. Sometimes the parents alternate every year, and sometimes they alternate every couple of years. Regardless, when parents are not married and filing a joint tax return, the IRS requires a specific tax form to be filed regarding the child tax exemption.

Tax Form 8332 is for the Release or Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. This form should be filed by what the IRS calls the custodial parent. The IRS defines the custodial parent as the parent “with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the year.” If the parents equally split the number of nights the child lived with each, the IRS considers the parent with the higher adjusted gross income as the custodial parent, with some exceptions for parents who work nights.

That means if the parent with whom the child lived for a majority of a given tax year was not the parent scheduled to claim the exemption for that child, that non-claiming parent would need to complete Tax Form 8332 so that the other parent can claim the exemption. The IRS requires this form to help avoid the situation where both parents claim the same child, which can cause one or both parties to refile or be audited.

It should be noted that under the law in Colorado, if a parent is past-due with child support payments by December 31 of the given tax year, that parent is not entitled to claim the child exemption even if he or she otherwise would be under the parenting plan.

If you have questions regarding your specific situation and how your taxes may be affected, it is best to contact a tax professional to assist you.

If you’d like legal help regarding parenting plans or custody agreements at an affordable flat rate in Colorado, schedule your consultation today.


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Lauren Lester is an affordable family law, estate planning, and probate lawyer licensed in Colorado.