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Married filing single and trying to claim a dependent

I am filing a 2019 Federal Tax for my self and for my daughter who turned 18 in  2019 and has been a  full time student.  I am in the middle of divorce since May 2019.

It looks like I cannot claim our daughter who has been living with me throughout all 2018 and 2019 as a dependent since my most expenditures were covered by credit card debt (which I am still responsible to pay off).  My earnings from a part-time job do not sum up to the amount of mortgage that my ex  has been paying on the house we own together and which my daughter and I currently occupy.  It is not our preference, but so was ordered by the court through Temporary Orders.    By the same logic, our daughter's earnings are not large enough to exceed the amount of mortgage paid as well.  On the other hand, my ex cannot claim dependents since he has not lived with any of us under the same roof since 2018.  He moved out to a different state and was not in military service.  So nobody can claim her as a dependent, but she cannot be considered independent at the same time?

I had to draw prematurely from IRA to make ends meet, and now I owe tax of that plus tax on income even though my income is 6,700  for the year and I still had to acquire credit card debt to provide for two of us.

Is it possible not to consider the mortgage paid on the house my daughter and I are staying in if my ex was ordered so by the court?

Can I still include expenses that came not only from earnings but from credit card debt as a provision for my daughter for the purpose of qualifying her as a dependent?

I will be filing single since my ex is very hard to deal with and I cannot trust his paperwork.


Thank you very much for the clarification and suggestions.





4 Replies
Expert Alumni

Married filing single and trying to claim a dependent

It sounds like your daughter would be your dependent as a qualifying child as long as she did not supply more than half her own support.


Qualifying child

RELATIONSHIP: A qualifying child can be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, adopted child or an offspring of any of them.

AGE: The child must be younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), AND at the end of the tax year, your child must have been under age 19 (or under 24 if a full-time student). There is no age limit if your child is permanently and totally disabled.

RESIDENCY: Your child must live with you for more than half the year. There are exceptions, such as being away at school, serving in the military, hospitalization and nursing home situations.

SUPPORT: Your child may not have provided more than half of their own support. Scholarships and grants are not considered as support provided by the student.

JOINT RETURN: Your child cannot file on a “Married Filing Jointly” return. (The exception is if they only file to claim a refund)

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Level 15

Married filing single and trying to claim a dependent

You cannot file Single, you must file as Married Filing Separately or possible Head of Household if you qualify.


Head of Household is for UNMARRIED taxpayers with a related dependent or married and have not lived with their spouse at anytime during the last 6 months of the tax year AND has a child, stepchild or foster child that can be a dependent.
You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.

1. You are unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the last day of the year.
(You could be considered unmarried if your spouse did not live in your home at any time during the last 6 months of the tax year).
If you were considered married for part of the year and lived in a community property state, special rules may apply in determining your income and expenses. See Publication 555 for more information.

2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.

3. A “qualifying person” lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences such as school) - a parent does not have to live with you to be a qualifying person.

4. If the qualifying person is your qualifying relative, their gross income must have been less than $4,200 (do not include non taxable Social Security) and you provided more than 1/2 of their support

5. You must be able to claim the dependent for the qualifying person except in the case of divorced or separated parents (that lived apart) and the noncustodial parent is claiming the dependent.

A Qualifying person is either:
A qualifying child or a qualifying closely related relative and meets certain other requirements, however if you are considered unmarried it can only be your child, stepchild, or foster child.

See IRS Publication 501 for more information about who is a qualifying person and a worksheet to determine the cost of keeping up a home.

See IRS Pub 501 for more information

**Disclaimer: This post is for discussion purposes only and is NOT tax advice. The author takes no responsibility for the accuracy of any information in this post.**
Not applicable

Married filing single and trying to claim a dependent

to the extent an expense is deductible, if you put it on a credit card it is deductible in the year you charged it (not the year you made payment on your credit card) .  some of the expenses that would qualify - medical, taxes, contributions.   

Not applicable

Married filing single and trying to claim a dependent

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