Sharing custody of a child often leads divorced parents to wonder which parent gets to claim their child on their taxes. Luckily there are federal laws in place that make determining which parent gets a tax break much easier.
How a dependence tax deduction is determined
Even when parents have shared custody, it rarely works out where the child spends an even 50 percent of his or her time with both parents. The IRS gives the parent who had custody of the child the most throughout the year a tax break. Even if your divorce decree states that you share equal custody, both parents cannot receive the tax break. Below are ways to determine which parent can claim a dependent on their taxes:
The parent who spent the most days throughout the year with the child can claim him or her as a dependent. If you had your child 55 percent of the time and your ex had your child 45 percent of the time, you may claim a dependent.
If your child in fact did spend exactly half the time with both parents, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income gets to claim your child as a dependent.
Waiving the dependent tax deduction
A divorced couple can agree to terms on their own to allow one or the other to claim their child. The one who qualifies to claim the dependent can waive the deduction. In order to do this both parents must still pay 50 percent of the child’s living expenses for the year and the equal custody agreement must be memorialized in a court ordered divorce decree. If you and your ex agree to these terms, the one waiving the dependent can sign IRS Form 8332, giving the other the ability to claim the child as a dependent.