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Question from a web visitor: If I sign Form 8332 giving my ex-husband permission to claim our child, can I claim anything for our child on my tax return?

Answer

Let’s start by reviewing what Form 8332 is.

One thing divorcing couples are always confused on — like, literally 100% of the time — is that the divorce decree is not necessarily the determining factor as to who can claim the kids.

Tax law looks at who the custodial parent is. Custodial = who the child spends more than half the nights out of the year with. ONLY that parent is entitled to claim the child on a tax return. This is where Form 8332 comes into play.

The custodial parent can sign a Form 8332 to release their claim to the child and give it to the non-custodial parent.

What Benefits Does Form 8332 Transfer

With a Form 8332, the non-custodial parent can claim the dependency exemption for the child and also claim the child tax credit — but no other tax benefits associated with the child. The CUSTODIAL PARENT remains eligible to use that child for tax benefits such as: head of household filing status, the earned income credit, and taking the credit for daycare expenses.

Example

John and Jane are divorced. They have one child. Jane is the custodial parent but the divorce decree says John can claim the child as a dependent in odd-numbered years. Jane gives John a signed Form 8332, releasing her claim to the child. John can now claim the child as a dependent, giving him an extra dependency exemption and the child tax credit. Jane remains eligible to use the child to potentially claim head of household filing status, the earned income credit, and the credit for daycare expenses (assuming, of course, that she meets the other qualification for those things).

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”