Question

I have a question about how to claim child care expenses. If I don't claim my child as a dependent, can I still claim the child tax benefit?

Answer

You usually can’t claim the child and dependent care credit for a nondependent child. The only exception is if the child would have been your dependent, except for one or more of these reasons:

  • The child had gross income of $4,050.
  • The child filed a joint return to claim a refund only.
  • Someone else could claim you, or your spouse if filing jointly, as a dependent.
  • You and your spouse are divorced or separated and living apart, and either of these applies:
    • The non-custodial parent is claiming your child as a dependent since you signed a waiver.
    • The non-custodial parent was allowed to claim the child pursuant to a divorce decree. The non-custodial parent could claim the child as a dependent and for purposes of the child tax credit. You can claim the child and dependent care credit if otherwise eligible. Under this circumstance, your child will still be considered a qualifying child for the credit. However, you must still meet the other requirements.

Your child might only live with you in alternate years. You can claim the dependent care credit for your child if your child lived with you more than half the year.

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