Posts Tagged ‘Child Tax Exemption’
by Tom Hogan
As the time advances toward Tax Day, one of the first questions divorced parents ask is, “Can I claim my child support as a deduction?” Afterall, after spending considerable amounts for the care of children, there has to be some way to get a tax break. Unfortunately, that break won’t come through a deduction of child support. Why?
The IRS does not consider child support to be tax deductible. Child support also is not taxable income and does not have a line item under itemized expenses. However, alimony or spousal support is considered taxable income and expenses related to the collection of those payments are tax deductible.
For the person paying child support and alimony, the IRS does allow tax deduction to be taken for those whose divorce decree wraps those two payments up into “family support” or for those who remit the child support as alimony. The recipient, however, must report this as taxable income. As a word of caution, if alimony is scheduled to end within six months of the child’s 18th or 21st birth date, the IRS may suspect the alimony is disguised child support.
All is not lost. While child support is not taxable income or deductible, being able to claim a child as a dependant does impact tax liability. Only one parent can take the dependency exemption and file as “head of household”. A divorce decree or IRS determination will establish who can take this exemption and get the subsequent benefits.
There are other expenses related to the care of children that do also allow for a tax break. Custodial parents may be able to take child care credits. For parents who have a dependent under the age of 17 and incur work-related expenses, the tax credit can apply to a portion of these costs. Noncustodial parents have the benefit of deducting certain child care and medical fees for minor children. Although the Tuition and Fees deduction has been eliminated for older children, parents of undergraduate students can take the American Opportunity Credit for up to $2,500 for each eligible child.
There are negative tax implications if a person does not pay their child support. If a person fails to pay child support, they may lose their tax refund. The Bureau of Fiscal Services can withhold a portion or all of a tax refund in an effort to collect delinquent child support payments. This is done exclusively under the Treasury Offset Program and if this is to occur, the BFS will provide details on the original refund amount, the amount withheld and information about the agency collecting the payment. If a couple filed jointly but were impacted by BFS action to recover unpaid child support, they may file Form 8379 to request a portion of the withheld payment back from the IRS.
Whereas child support is not able to be claimed as a deduction, there are ways to get tax credits or benefits to offset the costs of caring for dependent children. Whether through a family support agreement, dependent exemptions, or claiming deductions and tax credits on child care, education or medical expenses, divorced parents can benefit from available provisions to tax relief.
To speak with our attorneys, who specialize in both tax and divorce, please call our Modesto office at (209) 492-9335.
by Tom Hogan
During tax season, every exemption and deduction matters. What should divorced parents know that will help them on their taxes?
Questions arise on who will carry children on their taxes as dependants and claim the child tax exemption. First, the IRS establishes who dependants actually are. These include sons, daughters, step- or foster- children, grandchildren or other extended relatives. Dependants must also be under 19 or 24 and a full-time student and younger than the person claiming them. Permanently disabled children are also considered dependants regardless of age. They must also been living in the home and not paying more than 50 percent of their own support.
The IRS determines that the parent who has the child more than half of the year is the custodial parent and able to claim the child as a dependent and file as head of household. This parent also is entitled to earned income credit and tax credits for the child.
Since only one parent can claim a child as a dependant and receive tax benefits, parents with equal custody may alternate who claims the child as a dependant. In cases where there are an equal number of children, the parents may claim an equal number of children as dependant on each of their taxes so that both receive tax benefits. This agreement should be documented in the divorce decree or other written agreement. If an agreement isn’t in place among parents with 50-50 custody, the IRS will do a “tie breaker”, allowing the custodial parent with a higher adjusted gross income to claim the child as a dependent.
California Child Tax Exemption
On a state level, however, the custodial parent is often ordered to give the exemption to the noncustodial parent. If a noncustodial parent is allowed to claim the exemption, the custodial parent must sign Form 8332 (Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parent) and this form must filed along with the taxes of the noncustodial parent. Also, if exemptions are an issue, it is advisable to file earlier in the year so that the other parent must prove their right to the exemption if they attempt to claim it.
Like head of household status, child care credits can only be granted to the custodial parent. If the custodial parent has a qualifying minor and incurs work-related expenses, they are able to claim this credit for a portion of those costs. On the other hand, if a noncustodial parent covers medical expenses of their children, they are able to claim deductions on those. They may also be able to deduct other child care related expenses.
The child tax credit is also based on income. The threshold is $55,000 for married couples filing separately, $75,000 for single filing as the head of household and $100,000 for married couples filing jointly. For every $1,000 of income over the threshold, child income credits are reduced by $50.
The other major question is whether child support can be claimed as a deduction. The short answer is no. There are other deductions that can be claimed as noted earlier. Are there other ways around this? To get more information, contact our offices for help.