Can I claim a dependent if someone else has done so illegally?

February 18, 2004

Subject:  Separated Parent claims dependent
From:  S.
Date:  Sat, 24 Jan 2004


My husband and I are separated and we have a daughter who resides with me. Without my concent, my husband has claimed my daughter on his taxes this year. I was going to claim my daughter this year. If I didn't, I would have been willing to work out a deal with him where he claims my daughter and we split the return, but he did not inform me that he was claiming her and he owed the IRS back taxes. When he claimed my daughter, he falsely claimed head of household on a household in which he is not the head or in which he does not reside. (Not my household, someone else's.)

What can I do about this matter? Should I claim my daughter anyway and risk getting audited, or is there something else I can do? Please email me back with an answer.



Date:  Mon, 02 Feb 2004

Hello S.,

You can claim a dependent exemption for your daughter. As the custodial parent, you are entitled to the exemption and, if you maintain the residence for her, head of household status. If the tax authorities contact you with questions, tell them the facts. There is a good chance the Franchise Tax Board will question whether your husband qualifies as a head of household.

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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