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Dependents & Exemptions

Question: May divorced or legally separated parents split the dependency exemption for a child?


Only one taxpayer may claim a dependency exemption for a child for a tax year. You cannot split this dependency exemption between two or more taxpayers. Generally, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent.

However, you may treat the child as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of the noncustodial parent if the special rule for a child of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart applies, which requires, in part, that both of the following conditions are met:

  • The custodial parent signs a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement, and
  • The noncustodial parent attaches the Form 8332 or the statement to his or her return.

In addition, if the custodial parent releases a claim to the dependency exemption for a child for a specific year, the custodial parent may not claim the child tax credit for that child. See Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, for more information on the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart).

Additional Information:

Category: Filing Requirements, Status, Dependents, Exemptions
Subcategory: Dependents & Exemptions

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