Are child support payments deductible by the payer and may the payer claim the child as a dependent?

No and maybe. Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the recipient, and the payer of child support may be able to claim the child as a dependent:

  • The parent with whom the child lived for the greater part of the year is the custodial parent for federal income tax purposes. The custodial parent is generally able to claim the child as a dependent under the rules for a qualifying child if the other tests for claiming the child are met.
  • The noncustodial parent may claim the child as a dependent if the special rule for a child of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) applies, which requires, in part, that the custodial parent sign a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent or a substantially similar statement. The noncustodial parent must attach a copy of the release to his or her return to claim the child as a dependent.