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Question
Can a state court determine who may claim a dependency exemption for a child?
Answer

Federal tax law is what determines who may claim a dependency exemption for a child. Even if a state court order allocates a child’s dependency exemption to a noncustodial parent, the noncustodial parent must comply with the federal tax law to claim the exemption. The noncustodial parent must attach to his or her return a copy of the release of claim to exemption by the custodial parent, either on a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar document.

Refer to 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).