How do I stop someone from claiming my child on their taxes?

When it comes to divorced parents who share custody of their children, some problems arise every year with tax filing. If you are in doubt as to how do I stop someone from claiming my child on their taxes, the answer is not simple; it really can’t be avoided.

However, one can take some actions following the misuse of a child on a return. You must complete and file your return; if the IRS has accepted the fraudulent return, yours will be rejected, as the dependent’s Social Security number has already been entered.

If you believe that your ex-partner would have no grounds to claim their child, then their dependent may be a victim of tax identity theft.

What to do if someone claims your child on their taxes

If your child is claimed on taxes other than your own, you can take steps to claim you’re dependent and request a refund. There is no need to panic after learning that your child is not acceptable on your tax return.

The first thing is to know the requirements for claiming your dependent. Among those that stand out:

  • Must be a natural, stepchild, stepchild, adopted child, sibling or half-sibling.
  • The child must be under age 19 and younger than the claimant or the claimant’s spouse. Also, be under age 24 if a full-time student or have a permanent or total disability.
  • The child must not have provided more than half of the support in the year.
  • Must have lived with the claimant for more than six months.
  • You must not be filing a joint return for the year.

After completing the requirements, you can perform these single steps: 

1. File a paper return

Please print out a statement claiming your child and mail it. The IRS may delay your refund while investigating the problem, but don’t panic; you should still receive your refund. Remember, since the return is on paper, it takes the IRS six to eight weeks to process it.

2. Document your case

Because the rules for a dependent’s claim can get complicated at the IRS, it is essential to present documentation that proves your right to claim the dependent. The most important is a birth certificate and proof of identity.

Also, a document proves the child has lived at the same address with you for over half of the year. You must present school, medical, daycare or social services records among the papers.

You must obtain a letter on official letterhead from a school, medical provider, place of worship or social service agency showing the names, dates and common address between you and the child. Note that the IRS will provide you with a form you must complete.

3. Watch for IRS communications

The IRS will determine who is entitled to claim the dependent within two months of filing your paper return. So, be alert to communications and respond when necessary.

You may receive a letter from the IRS stating that you claimed your child on another return. You will be asked to file an amended return if you have made a mistake; otherwise, you should do nothing.

The person who advanced the claim must also file an amended return if no one files the requested return to remove the child-related benefits. The IRS will respond with an audit of each party involved to determine who is entitled to claim the dependent.

After a few months, you will receive another letter to initiate the audit. The IRS will ask for proof of your right to claim your child. It would be best if you answered everything by the IRS deadline. After the IRS issues a verdict, it will collect or assess any additional taxes, penalties and interest from the person who incorrectly claimed the child.

To understand how I stop someone from claiming my child on their taxes, it is necessary to know and comply with IRS rules. However, remember that once it happens, you can’t return on the filed return but wait for the IRS to comply with the protocol.

Who can claim your child?

The IRS decides which parent can claim the child, considering which complies with the rules. The parent who lived with the child the longest during the tax year, including overnight stays and nights spent in the same house as the parent, including vacations.

This means that the dependency exemption goes to the custodial parent, the one who legally, by court order, has custody of the child.

If the child spends the same amount of time with each parent, or the parents live together but cannot file a joint tax return. The dependency exemption is granted to the higher adjusted gross income parent.

Another scenario arises when the filer is not the parent of the dependent. Then, they will have no chance of winning, as the parents have the first right to claim. These situations are not common but occur from time to time.