Parents of divorced dependent children may face extra challenges when it comes to preparing their income taxes.
H&R Block Senior Tax Advisor Michelle Bachtel says that’s one of the more common questions she gets. Generally she says the IRS says whoever the child remains with the majority of the year is the person who gets the claim.
“Sometimes though divorce decrees will grant the non-custodial parent the claim,” Bachtel said. “That’s when you hear people refer to splitting an exemption. The custodial parent is still entitled to some credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, where the non-custodial parent who gets the exemption is entitled to the child tax credit. It is possible to split an exemption, but there are some very strict rules for doing that.”
Whether you file your own taxes or have them professionally prepared, Bachtel says documentation is extremely important. Her office asks divorced clients to bring a copy of their divorce decree to keep on file. She says it’s also a good idea to bring a copy of the child’s school record to show proof of residence just in case the IRS questions the claim along with copies of the child’s birth certificate and Social Security cards.