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Claiming dependents after divorce

Washington parents who are divorced or separated should take care when claiming their children as dependents on tax returns. Complications can arise if both parents claim the kids as dependents.

Claiming children as dependents means that parents will be able to claim the Head of Household filing status. They could also potentially claim the Earned Income Tax Credit Child Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, all of which can help reduce a tax burden and increase tax refunds.

One of the tax changes brought on by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opens is the elimination of the personal exemption beginning in the 2018 tax year. However, parents may still be able to claim the Dependent Care Credit and will see their Child Tax Credit doubled to $2,000.

If more than one parent claims the same dependent and there are no legal agreements that specify who is entitled to claim the credits, a number of rules are applied by the Internal Revenue Service to determine which claims should be honored. The first factor that will be considered will be the relationship of the taxpayer to the dependent; parents will be prioritized over non-parents if there are competing claims.

A divorce attorney may consider the factors surrounding a separation before recommending certain legal strategies to a client. Litigation and negotiation tactics may be used to resolve disagreements regarding issues related to spousal support, the division of assets and child custody. Regarding child custody, the attorney could work to address issues such as visitation, child support and who will have the right to claim the children on their tax returns.

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