Question

Is child support tax deductible? If you’re paying child support for your dependent children, but they don’t live with you, can you claim them as dependents?

Answer

The answer to the question, “is child support tax deductible” is no, there is not a deduction available for child support.

Instead, child support comes into play on tax returns when you claim a dependent on your taxes. To qualify as a dependent, the child must not provide more than half of his or her own support for the year and must meet a series of criteria.

The child must live with you more than half of the year. So, the child of divorced or separated parents is usually the qualifying child of the parent the child lived with the longest. This is the “custodial parent” according to tax law. However, the noncustodial parent can claim the child, if they meet certain requirements.

Child Support is Not Deductible by the Payer

IRS Publication 504 says:

“Child support payments are not deductible by the payer and are not taxable to the payee.”

IRS.gov says:

“When you calculate your gross income to see if you are required to file a tax return, do not include child support payments received.”

Can a Noncustodial Parent Claim a child as a Dependent?

So, you now know the answer to the question, ”is child support deductible”. But let’s now review the special rules for claiming a dependent if you’re the noncustodial parent. A child can be the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if all of these are true:

  • One or both parents provided more than half of the child’s total support for the year.
  • One or both parents have custody of the child for more than half of the year.
  • The parents are divorced, legally separated, or lived apart at all times during the last six months of the year.

The TCJA suspended personal exemptions so taxpayers will now “claim” dependents if they meet the rules but will not receive an exemption for that dependent.

They do have to “claim” or list the dependent on their return to qualify for dependent/family-related benefits.

Help with Child Support as it Relates to Taxes

It’s common for people to ask “is child support taxable?” So, if you need more information or guidance on how child support impacts your taxes, help is on the way

Taxes can be complex and change frequently, so consult with a tax pro for the most up-to-date guidance. Whether you make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable tax pros or choose one of our online tax filing products, you can count on H&R Block to help you.

 

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