I pay child support monthly. Why can’t I claim my child as a dependent?

Q) I pay child support every month. I buy extras like school clothes and pay for field trips. Why can’t I claim my child as a dependent?

A) The reason you may not be able to claim your child as a dependent even if you pay child support is likely due to tax laws and the criteria for claiming a dependent on your tax return. The IRS has specific rules for who can claim dependents, and paying child support is not one of them. To claim a child as a dependent, you generally must provide more than half of their financial support and meet other requirements, such as the child living with you for more than half the year and being related to you.

It is important to review the IRS guidelines for claiming dependents and consult with a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about your tax situation. Additionally, you may want to review your child support order and consult with a family law attorney if you have any questions or concerns about your support payments or obligations.

Generally, the parent who has physical custody of the child for the majority of the year is entitled to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes. This is usually the custodial parent, but it can be agreed upon otherwise in a divorce or separation agreement. Paying child support and providing for the child’s needs does not necessarily give a noncustodial parent the right to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and you should consult with a tax professional or an attorney to discuss your specific situation.

NOTE: Under domestic relations tax provisions set forth by the Internal Revenue Code, for divorced or separated parents, the parent who has custody for a greater portion of the calendar year is entitled to the dependency exemption for the child (See 26 U.S.C. 152(e)). In some cases, a court or administrator will address the issue of who can claim the dependency. Also, the parent with custody can provide the other parent with a written statement that he/she may take the exemption for a given year. See IRS Publication 504. In the case of parents who have never married, the IRS gives information about who can be claimed as a dependent in their Publication 501

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