Claiming children as dependents on taxes

Every year, a number of couples file for divorce in Illinois. Couples with minor children often both want to claim the children as dependents due to the fact that claiming dependents will allow the taxpayer to claim the head of household deduction and tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit, the Child Dependent Care Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Tax Cuts and Job Act eliminated the personal exemption after 2018 but compensated for that by doubling the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000.

When more than one person is claiming a dependent on their taxes, the IRS has certain rules that must be followed. Parents take precedent over others who claim children on their taxes if there are competing claims. When parents both file to claim minor children as dependents on their taxes, the parent who has the children for most of the tax year has the right to claim them. After divorce, this would be the custodial parent.

If parents share joint custody, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income during the year may claim the children as long as they have provided the most financial support. When parents are unmarried, they can decide which parent will claim the minor children between themselves if they both live in the same household where the child resides.

A divorce attorney may be able to help clients work out an agreement with their spouse to allow them to claim minor children. Some parents agree to claim children as dependents in alternate years. This agreement can be included in a settlement agreement that states who will claim the minor children during which years, along with provisions regarding property division. A divorce lawyer may also be able to help in cases where parents refuse to abide by court orders by filing a petition for contempt in the court that entered any prior orders regarding child custody.

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