Your Life

Your Life

Major life milestones often have a major tax impact. Changes in your marital status, having a baby or adopting a child can have significant impact on your taxes. This is the place to ask questions about dependents, real estate, and other various scenarios that play a significant role in what taxes you pay.

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Trusted Pioneer
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-10-2017
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End of marriage/child

My husband and I split in November 2015. Our now 6 1/2 year old son has lived with me since then. He has not lived with his dad at all since we split. We are still married since he is refussing to sign the divorce papers. His girlfriend and their child live together. I only worked one month in 2016. My son and I live with my boyfriend. I am claiming my son on my taxes this year, but I am not sure how I will file. Do I file as married filing separate or HOH? Or should my boyfriend file as HOH and claim me and my son (if that is allowed-i'm not sure) on his taxes? He provided for us three this entire year, with the bills and what not. Also do I need to add the one month I recieved in child support on my taxes (i wasn't sure if that needs to be on there too)?

 

Kristen

Tax Pro
Posts: 5,615
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: End of marriage/child

Hi kristen7733,

 

Welcome to the community.

 

So the first thing I noticed is that you only worked for one month in 2016.  This leads me to ask how you are supporting yourself because if someone else is providing for you and your son then chances are they can claim not only your son but you as well.

 

If your boyfriend was providing more than 50% of the support (rent or mortgage, home insurance, repairs, utilities, and food) for you and your son and if he meets the other requirements he can claim both you and your son as a qualifying relatives.  This would be the most beneficial situation for you because he will get both of your exemptions which means less taxable income, less tax, and a bigger refund.

 

Did you and your son live with your boyfriend all year long?  Did you earn more than $4,050 during 2016?  These will be the determining factors in whether or not he can claim you.

 

Let's look at the requirements for qualifying relatives:

  • The person must have lived with you all year long or must have been related to you and lived with your for more than half of the year.
  • The person must have earned less than $4,050 for the year.
  • You must have provided more than 50% of the person's support.
  • The person must not be the qualifying child of another taxpayer.

If all of these requirements are met then your boyfriend can claim both you and your son as qualifying relatives.

 

Your boyfriend cannot claim your son as a qualifying child this year because your son is unrelated to him.  This means no earned income credit and he won't be able to file as head of household, although your boyfriend claiming the two of you would still be greatly beneficial.  However, if you become married during 2017, or if your boyfriend were to adopt your son, then he would be able to claim full tax benefits and file jointly with you (or as head of household if you're not married but he's adopted your son).

 

On the subject of your own tax return, your choices are either to file using the "married, filing separately" status or to claim your son and file as head of household.  Since you will likely not owe any tax as a result of having worked very little during 2016 though you will not lose anything by filing separately.  However, so that I can give you an idea of how much you would be eligible for in credits, etc. on your tax return and so that I can make sure that I've answered your question as accurately as possible I have a question for you - what was your income for 2016?

 

I hope this helps you out and I'll be here if you have any other questions.

 

Louis,

Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)

Associate (Council Member)
Posts: 1,925
Registered: ‎12-13-2013

Re: End of marriage/child

Hello kristen7733.

 

I just thought to add a couple of other points to this discussion.

 

First is to say that child support is not income to you, so it does not get reported on your income tax return.

 

From the detail you provided it does not appear that you could be considered as "unmarried for tax purposes", which is a requirement for filing as Head Of Household.  One major test you must meet is that you provided over half the cost of maintaining your home for the tax year and that this was the main home of your qualiying child for more than half of the year.  Because you mention that your boyfriend provided for all 3 of you for the entire year, I can only assume you do not meet the criteria to file as HOH (nor does your boyfriend, as Louis mentions).

 

So you have two choices of filing statuses to choose from.  Married Filing Separate (MFS), or Married Filing Joint (MFJ) if your legal spouse is agreeable.  Since you worked for only one month, MFS might not be a bad choice for you, but you will not be allowed to claim any Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as the MFS filing status automatically disualifies taxpayers from claiming EITC.  However, with only one month's wages, you probably won't owe anything.  MFJ might be a consideration if you and your legal spouse are on good, or at least on speaking terms, especially if his income level would be within the limits for claiming EITC and the Child Tax Credit (including the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit).

 

I believe that you would benefit from meeting with a local Tax Professional who could provide you with your best options (it would be even better if your legal spouse could do this as well) for filing your tax return(s).  You can use the "Make An Appointment" button on the main webpage here in The Community to find a convenient office location near you.

 

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck to you.

WillMc1
Tax Professional (Retired)
Trusted Pioneer
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-10-2017

Re: End of marriage/child

Louis H,

 

Yes my boyfriend provided all of the support for my son and me in 2016. My son and I lived with him starting Feb. 1, 2016. Then we lived with him the rest of the year. The only month we did not live with him was Jan. 2016. I only made $1,557.50 in 2016. He has not adopted my son. So, I would not be able to file as HOH since my boyfriend supported myself and my son the entire year, correct? So my choices would then be married filing separate and claim my son or let my boyfriend claim us both? Is that right? Another question I had was if my boyfriend claims both of us would we add my son to the tax record and then just not accept the money from claiming my son, since it will be under my boyfriends name? 

Kristen

Trusted Pioneer
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-10-2017

Re: End of marriage/child

WillMC1,

My ex and I are not on good terms so I would not file with him this year. I don't think that would be wise. My son did live with me and my boyfriend the entire year. I am not sure I am following as to why my boyfriend can not file as HOH. Is it if he claims myself and my son he does not qualify as HOH or does he not qualify to file as HOH even if he file his own with just him on it? 

Kristen

Trusted Pioneer
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-10-2017

Re: End of marriage/child

I forgot to add this to my original post. The other day my boyfriend went to the IRS website to see if he could claim us both by using the interactive tax assit tool and this is what it said after he answered all of the questions:

 

Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA)

Answers to Your General Filing Questions
Who can I claim as a dependent?
You can claim ethan as a dependent.
 
Another person cannot claim ethan as a qualifying dependent child
 
You meet the requirements for claiming the above person(s) as a dependent relative; however, since another taxpayer may also meet the requirements, you should confirm with the other taxpayer whether they can claim the person.
  • If the other taxpayer does not meet the requirements to claim the person as a qualifying child, you can claim the exemption for the person.
  • If the other taxpayer meets the requirements to claim the person as a qualifying child, you can claim the exemption only if one of the following is true:
    • The other person is not required to file an income tax return and does not file an income tax return, or
    • The other person is not required to file an income tax return and files a return solely to obtain a refund of Federal income tax withheld.


You can claim kristen as a dependent.
 
So does that mean my boyfriend should go ahead and file as HOH and claim myself and my son?
Kristen
Associate (Council Member)
Posts: 1,925
Registered: ‎12-13-2013

Re: End of marriage/child

Thank you for the additional details, but I am afraid the news is not good for your boyfriend specifically.

Because you and your son did not live with your boyfriend for the entire year (you moved in on Feb 1st), he cannot claim either of you as a dependent on his 2016 tax return. The rules for claiming non-related persons mandate that you must live the entire year with the taxpayer. What this means is you must have been a member in his household from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. So unless he has a qualifying child of his own that meets the requirements I mentioned earlier, his filing status would be Single (assuming he is not legally married), and can only claim his own personal exemption. He cannot claim you and your son as dependents.

I am truly sorry for the bad news, but again I do hope this is helpful information.
WillMc1
Tax Professional (Retired)
Tax Pro
Posts: 5,615
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: End of marriage/child

Hi Kristen7733,

 

I'm sorry that it's taken so long to get back to you on this.  I've just been reading back through it again and while Will is also correct on all counts I may have a little bit of good news for you.

 

The reason your boyfriend cannot claim either of you, as Will mentioned, is because you didn't live with him for the entire year, it's not because he didn't support you.

 

Having the new information you provided I can also tell you that you cannot file as head of household because you do have to provide more than 50% of the support for your household all year long.  If you had met the 50% of support requirement then you would have been able to file as HOH.  The exception to filing with the "married, filing separately" status is that if you qualify to file as head of household and your spouse has been gone for more than the last six months of the year you may file as HOH instead of married & filing separately.  You would meet that exception again if you had provided more than 50% of the support for your household.

 

So there's at least one qualification on each side that's going to rule out filing as HOH for each of you for 2016.

 

Now for the good news.  There is one set of rules that's in your favor.  The qualifying child rules will allow you to claim your son's exemption on your own tax return.  There is no rule that says you have to provide more than 50% of your child's support to claim the child as a qualifying child (that rule is for qualifying relatives only).  The rules that are most important in your situation are (1) you cannot claim a dependent if you are eligible to claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and (2) your child cannot have provided more than 50% of their own support.  Therefore, although as Will mentions you must file using the "married, filing separately" status, but since your boyfriends is ineligible to claim you and nobody else can claim you since he provided for you, you can put your child on your own tax return as your dependent.

 

So what this all comes down to is that yes you must file separately from your husband and you can claim your child under the qualifying child rules, however since you only had $1,500 worth of income (and if that was child support as I seem to remember you saying it's not taxable income) and since will not be eligible for any major credits you do not need to file a tax return unless you had withholding to be refunded.

 

I do agree that you should see a tax professional when you get ready to look at your tax return so that a fresh set of eyes can go through this with you.  When you have a situation like this it's always good to have an experienced tax professionals look at it in person so that you can be sure that nothing is missed.

 

I'm sorry that I couldn't give you better news, but hopefully 2017 will be a better year for you.  Certainly if your boyfriend is still supporting you and does so all year long this year he will be able to claim you both next tax season or file jointly with you and claim your son if you're married to him by December 31st.

 

Always glad to be of help.

 

Louis,

Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)

Trusted Pioneer
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-10-2017

Re: End of marriage/child

Thank you both for all of the information. I appreciate all of the advice and answering all of my many questions.

Tax Pro
Posts: 5,615
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: End of marriage/child

kristen7733,

 

You're quite welcome.