Inevitably, you’ve already heard the saying that nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes. If taxes are a certainty, why aren’t they easier to file? Navigating tax law and IRS regulations is challenging. One wrong move or even one misplaced number or decimal point is enough to get you in hot water with the IRS. Doing your taxes is hard enough. Now try doing your taxes with the added complications from a recent divorce. The process can be downright stressful.
One of the most common questions we get at BB Law Group PLLC is, “who gets to claim the children on their taxes after a divorce in Texas?” The answer may not always be as clear-cut as you think. That is why we are committed to helping you navigate the challenges that a divorce can pose, especially during tax season.
Who Can Claim the Kids on Their Taxes After a Divorce?
The answer is not straightforward. In general, the Internal Revenue Service stipulates that the parent who has primary custody of the child has the right to claim that child as a dependent on their tax return.
What does this mean for your situation? First, let’s review custody arrangements. In Texas, parents can be granted legal custody and physical custody of a child. These are two distinct types of arrangements. Legal custody is a parent’s ability to make crucial life decisions for the child. These decisions can impact the child’s education, medical care, and overall well-being. Physical custody refers to a child’s living situation. A parent could have joint legal custody but only sole physical custody. There are multiple different ways that custody arrangements can be made. These arrangements will make a difference in who can claim the child on their taxes.
For tax purposes, the custodial parent has the right to claim the child as a dependent. The custodial parent is the one who has primary physical custody of the child. However, in a true 50-50 physical custody arrangement, the IRS has introduced a sort of tie-breaker rule. According to the agency, the parent with the higher taxable income should claim the child. This is generally because the parent with the higher income will gain a larger tax benefit from claiming the child as a dependent.
Can a Non-Custodial Parent Ever Claim a Child as a Dependent?
Again, technically, yes. However, this is where things can get murky. The IRS says that a custodial parent has the right to claim a child as a dependent. That doesn’t mean that the custodial parent must claim the child on their taxes. A custodial parent can agree to allow the non-custodial parent to claim the child as a dependent. Ideally, this needs to be clearly spelled out in the divorce or child custody agreement. In some cases, it may be more advantageous for the non-custodial parent to claim the child on their tax paperwork.
How an Attorney Can Help
The process of divorce can be overwhelming. You may focus on the well-being of your children and how your assets are divided. Rarely are you thinking of the potential implications of divorce come tax time. Unfortunately, a divorce can impact your tax situation when April finally rolls around. You need an attorney on your side who understands how your custody arrangement and the IRS can impact you, your family, and your financial situation.
Your divorce and custody arrangements should include an agreement about which parent gets to claim the child on their taxes. Overlooking this detail can spell trouble during tax season. Only one parent can claim a child as a dependent. Without clear instructions and communication, both parties could inadvertently file tax paperwork claiming a child as a dependent. The last thing you want to do after going through a divorce is to trigger an IRS tax audit or investigation.
If you and your ex-partner need to make changes to the tax arrangements, talk to an experienced family law attorney. Do not orally agree to alter your tax agreement. These changes should be spelled out in writing to protect you and your child.
Contact BB Law Group PLLC For More Information
Do you need help understanding your tax agreement? Are you contemplating divorce and have questions about the process? Talk to an experienced family law attorney in The Woodlands with BB Law Group PLLC today. We can review your situation and help you process what divorce means for you and your family.
With BB Law Group PLLC on your side, you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone. Reach out to our office for support and legal advice today. Call (832) 534-2589 to set up a confidential consultation.