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01-30-2017 03:59 PM
My step son was kidnapped years ago and taken to Brazil. I know (or think I know) that kidnapped children are still qualifying dependents until they are of age. However, the ACA wants to hold me accountable for providing insurance for him, unless I have an exception. The closest exception available is that he is "overseas". Is this the correct exemption choice? While it is true he is overseas, it doesn't really capture what is really going on and if audited or asked for paperwork to back this up, the IRS may be expecting different paperwork, for example a plane ticket I obviously don't have - when the proof they should be looking for is police/Department of State documentation.
For further complication to this - he's technically not "kidnapped" as defined by law - he's "wrongfully removed" under the Hague Convention since it is an international affair. I don't know how picky the IRS or ACA is about it.
01-30-2017 04:17 PM
Welcome to the H&R Block community.
The only way for you to avoid the penalty in this situation, although it does not precisely reflect what happened, is to claim the exemption for a person who has been out of the country for more than 330 days.
There is not an exemption specifically for victims of kidnapping.
When you fill out Form 8965 you'll want to enter exemption code "C" for your step son.
Hopefully this helps you out.
Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)
01-31-2017 09:57 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your situation with your step son. Because this is a very unique situation I asked for some guidance from a member of The Tax Institue. Below is her response:
Children that have been kidnapped are considered to live with their parents for the full year and therefore eligible to be claimed as a dependent (assuming all other dependency requirements are met) when:
Because the ACA requires insurance coverage for each member of the household for whom a dependency exemption is claimed, the program would be looking for an exemption for this child. Unfortunately there is no exemption from the penalty specifically for children in this situation.
If there is good reason to believe the child is in Brazil, then claiming an exemption for being out of the country for most of the year would be appropriate. Another option would be to apply to the Marketplace for a hardship exemption using code 14, “other” and explain the situation along and submit documentation showing that the child has been kidnapped, such as a police report or other legal document.
Once approved, the Marketplace will issue an Exemption Certification Number (ECN) that is used to claim the exemption on the return. However, you do not need to wait to file your return until you receive this number. You may file now and enter the word “pending” in the spot where the ECN would normally go and the program will assist you with getting the application and filling parts of it out. You will then need to complete the rest of the application, gather the documentation and then mail the application to the address listed on the application. The Marketplace will then transmit the ECN directly to the IRS once approved and no further action will be needed. In future years, you can apply for the exemption prior to filing your return as well so you will have the ECN to enter on your return. You can apply for a hardship exemption at any time during the year.
I hope this is helpful. Best of luck to you.