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Sean 1969
Level 2

Claiming Dependents

I have always claimed my kids as dependents.  This year, they both still qualify as dependants, and when I look through Turbotax, I get a $500 credit per child.  When I review my oldest son's income taxes, he gets $1100 more back by me not claiming him, and claiming himself.  The money would say do it that way.  Am I required to claim my son if he meets the criteria to be claimed?  I thought I read in the past that if I can claim them, I'm required to.  Thanks.

3 Replies
SweetieJean
Level 15

Claiming Dependents

No, you do not have to claim him.  However, he still cannot "claim himself" IF he qualifies as your dependent anyway.

Sean 1969
Level 2

Claiming Dependents

Thank you for the fast response.  Just so I'm clear, when I'm doing his taxes, I have answered that 'someone can claim me as a dependent' and then answer 'no, no one will claim me in 2020'.  With those answers, he gets $1100 more back.  If I change the second answer to 'yes, someone will claim me in 2020', he gets the lower value.  Seems like I can answer those questions that way and be ok?

Opus 17
Level 15

Claiming Dependents

I believe this is a peculiar quirk of the American opportunity credit.  There are some times when a child who can be claimed as a dependent and is a college student will get a larger credit than their parent. This most often happens when the parents income is too high to qualify for the full credit, but it also only works if the child has a reasonably substantial income of their own.  

As long as you understand that the child’s return must still check the box that says I can be claimed as a dependent, even though you will not be claiming him.  Failing to check that box would make the child eligible for the stimulus credits, which would constitute tax fraud.  Most people go no farther than that.  

The follow up question of “will the person who can claim you actually claim you“ only applies to the American opportunity credit, and if your family’s combined refund is larger by answering no to that question and then you not claiming your child as a dependent, you are entitled to do that.

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
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