Several times during tax season we electronically file a client’s tax return, only to learn that one of the client’s legal dependents was claimed falsely on another tax return. Sometimes this is due to identity theft, which will be discussed in another blog. More often this situation arises because an ex-spouse, a grandparent, or another ineligible family member has the child’s information and claims the child, even though they did not have the child for at least 6 months or provide 50% or more of the child’s support. Unfortunately, many tax preparers simply tell their clients that there is nothing that can be done since the child has already been claimed. Such a statement is wrong and misleading, because there are procedures we can take that will allow you to get the tax credits you deserve as the custodial parent.

How can you get the tax credits for your qualified child? When the taxpayer enters our office or schedules a video conference with this problem we discuss with them how the problem can be fixed. We suggest the taxpayer gather documents that support their claiming the child. Once these documents are gathered, we attach the documents to the prepared tax return. We have the taxpayer then mail the tax return to the proper IRS office.

In about 6 to 8 weeks the taxpayer receives their refund from the IRS. Occasionally, the IRS may request additional documents to support your claiming the child. The IRS then will allow your claiming the child and give you the tax credits. Then the IRS will contact the taxpayer who falsely claimed the child and request payment back of any tax benefits received from claiming a child they were not eligible to claim.

There is no race to see who can claim the child first. The tax law plainly states that the qualified taxpayer is the party that can properly and legally claim a child on a tax return.