Who is entitled to claim our college age daughter as a dependent. She was away a college for 10 months of the year. She lived in housing that I provided. I also paid the vast majority of her expenses. (Tuition, room and board, auto and health insurance, miscellaneous living expenses. )
When on break from school she spent more time at my ex wife's house than mine. Who is entitled to claim her? One more thing, we have no agreement as to who should claim her.
Q. Is my ex wife or I entitled to claim our daughter as a dependent?
A. Simple answer: your ex wife. Because that's who she lived with before she went to college (temporary absence) and that's who's home she returns to on school breaks. She is still her mother's "qualifying child" dependent (assuming she's under age 24), under the dependent rules. The fact that you provide most of the support doesn't matter under the qualifying child rules. Her mom can claim the tuition credit, even though you paid it.
But taxes aren't simple. If she has permanently moved out of her mom's house (living with her fiance, only for school, doesn't count), the qualifying child rules no longer apply and we need to look at the "qualifying relative" rules.
There are two types of dependents, "Qualifying Children"(QC) and standard ("Qualifying Relative" in IRS parlance even though they don't have to actually be related). There is no income limit for a QC but there is an age limit and student status test, a relationship test and a residence test. Only a QC qualifies a taxpayer for the Earned Income Credit. The support test for a QC is only that the dependent did not provide more than half her own support (not that the taxpayer provided support).
A person can still be a Qualifying relative dependent, if not a Qualifying Child, if he meets the 6 tests for claiming a dependent:
- Closely Related OR live with the taxpayer ALL year. Note: it doesn't matter where she lived, other than the support value of the home.
- His/her gross taxable income for the year must be less than $4200.
- The taxpayer must have provided more than 1/2 his support (now it does matter how much support you provided.
In either case
- He must be a US citizen or resident of the US, Canada or Mexico
- He must not file a joint return with his spouse or be claiming a dependent of his own
- He must not be the qualifying child of another taxpayer
You say there is no agreement as to which parent will claim her. If you both try to claim her, without coordinating with each other, the IRS will get involved. The parent the child lives with, or is deemed to live with, usually wins.