What To Do When Someone Fraudulently Claims Your Dependent

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 on their own tax return, or if you receive an IRS Notice CP87A, you’ll need to verify you entered the correct information for the dependent(s) you claimed.

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(s).   Due to federal privacy laws, the IRS can only disclose the return information if the victim’s name and SSN are listed as either the primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent return. For this reason, the IRS cannot disclose return information to any person listed only as a dependent.

If you don’t know anyone who could have claimed the dependent, your dependent may be a victim of identity theft. See The Taxpayer's Guide to Identity Theft for steps you may take if you feel you or your dependent’s identity has been stolen.

Using the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov, verify you meet the requirements to claim the dependent(s). Once you verify another person was not eligible to claim your dependent(s), you’ll need to take steps to protect your right to claim the dependent(s) and ensure an accurate filing.

Three primary steps to Claim your Dependent

If you confirmed you are eligible to claim the dependent(s), take the following steps:

  1. File a paper return

    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.

  2. You need to prove you’re entitled to claim the dependent
    • This (Form 886-H-DEPPDF) 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.
  3. 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 other 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.