Question

I have a question about head of household rules. My child’s father and I take turns claiming our child on our returns. If this isn’t my year to claim our child, can I file head of household with a dependent so I can claim the EIC?

Answer

Head of household rules dictate that you can file as head of household even if you don’t claim your child as a dependent on your return. You have to qualify for head of household status.

If the child didn’t live with his father for more than half the year, the father wouldn’t be eligible to file as head of household. Only you would be able to use this status based upon this child.

There is only one arrangement where more than one taxpayer can claim child-related benefits for the same child. Both of these must occur:

  • The custodial parent completes Form 8332 to give the exemption to the other parent. The noncustodial parent claims both of these:
    • Dependency exemption
    • Child tax credit
  • The custodial parent files as head of household and claims both of these:
    • Earned Income Credit (EIC)
    • Child and Dependent Care Credit (Child care credit)

If either parent is claiming a tax benefit, that parent must qualify for the benefit.

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