My ex-spouse has already claimed our child as a dependent, but the child lived with me all year. How is it decided which parent claimed the child on taxes? Can I claim the child? If so, how do I file?

0 Kudos
Started ‎08-11-2017 by
Modified ‎08-11-2017 by

Usually, the custodial parent gets to claim the qualifying child (or qualifying children) as dependents. This is true unless you have a divorce decree stating otherwise. 


If you feel that you should be able to claim the dependent, you’ll need to print and mail your return. You won’t be able to e-file. The IRS won’t allow two different people to e-file using the same dependent Social Security number (SSN). 


The IRS will then send a letter to both of you to determine who gets to claim the exemption for the qualifying relative. 

If you can’t agree on who claims the child, the tie-breaker rules apply. 


Under the tie-breaker rules, the child is a qualifying child only for: 

  • The parent with whom the child lived the longest during the tax year 
  • The parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI). This applies if the child lived with each parent for the same amount of time during the tax year. 
  • The person with the highest AGI if no parent can claim the child as a qualifying child 
  • A person with an AGI higher than any parent who can claim the child as a qualifying child but doesn’t