Question

I claimed my two college-age children on my return but shouldn’t have since they’re filing on their own. What should I do?

Answer

You must first determine if your children can be your dependents since they’re qualifying children or relatives.

If you are claiming adult children as dependents, they can still file their own returns. However, they can’t claim a personal exemption. This is true whether or not you claim them as dependents. If you claim them as dependents, this affects their ability to claim certain other benefits, like the Earned Income Credit (EIC).

If they aren’t your dependents, you should use the amended return option to remove them. Use Form 1040X to create an amended return, which you must mail to the IRS.

After you remove your children from your return, each child will then be able to claim a personal exemption.

If a Social Security number (SSN) has already been claimed on a return and you try to file with it, you’ll have to mail in your return. The IRS won’t allow a second return claiming the same SSN to be e-filed. You don’t need to send any additional documents with the return.

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