If you e-file your tax return and get a message telling you that a dependent on your return has been claimed on another tax return or their own, or if you receive an IRS Notice CP87A, you’ll need to find out why someone else claimed your dependent.
Did you enter your dependent’s information correctly?
If so, you need to know the IRS is prohibited from telling you who claimed your dependent. You’ll possibly be able to identify who it was. If you don’t suspect anyone who could have claimed the dependent, your dependent may be a victim of identity theft.
Due to federal privacy laws, the victim’s name and SSN must be listed as either the primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent return; otherwise the IRS cannot disclose the return information. For this reason, the IRS cannot disclose return information to any person listed only as a dependent. How to request a copy of a fraudulent return.
If you determine the other person was not eligible to claim your dependent, you’ll need to take steps to protect your right to claim the dependent and ensure an accurate filing.
Three primary steps
Using the IRS.gov Interactive Assistant, verify you meet the requirements to claim the dependent. If you are, take the following steps:
- File a paper return
- Prepare paper tax return.
- Claim your dependent(s).
- Mail the completed tax return to the IRS.
Your refund will be delayed while we investigate your case. Paper tax returns can take up to six to eight weeks for us to process.
- You need to prove you’re entitled to claim the dependent
- This (Form 886-H-DEP (PDF)) provides a comprehensive list of supporting documentation to assist in resolving your case. Secure copies of birth certificates, proof of identity and documents that show your dependent lived with you at the same address for more than half of the calendar year.
- Recordation such as school, medical, daycare, or social service records on official letterhead from a school, medical provider, social service agency, or place of worship that shows names, common address and dates.
- If you receive a CP75A Notice, it means we're investigating the information you’ve provided and need additional documentation to verify the dependent exemption(s) and filing status you claimed on your tax return.
- Answer when the IRS contacts you
About two months after you file a paper return, we’ll begin to determine who’s entitled to claim the dependent.
You may receive a letter (CP87A) from us, stating your child was claimed on another return. It will explain what to do, either file an amended return or do nothing.
The person who claimed the dependent will get the same letter. If one of you do not file an amended return that removes the child-related benefits, then you may be audited by us to determine who can claim the dependent.
In that case, you’ll get a letter in a few months to begin the audit. In the audit, we’ll require you to provide proof that you’re entitled to claim the dependent. Be sure to reply completely and by the response deadline. After we decide the issue, we’ll assess any additional taxes, penalties, and interest on the person who incorrectly claimed the dependent.
You should discuss with concerned family members, the claiming of children before a situation like this arises.
Learn more about dependents and know your options and rights in Publication 501.