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My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

We both claimed our son on our individual tax returns by accident, and I need to figure out who needs to submit an amended return.
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7 Replies

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

for simplicity, I'm going to assume that you both meet the basic rules for claiming him as a qualifying child - related, meets the age test, meets the residency test, doesn't support himself and doesn't file a joint return. 

 

so now we have to look at the IRC ,(the code)tie-breaker rules where the child is the qualifying child of more than one taxpayer:

1) did you and the father live together with the child for the same portion of the year? if not the parent with whom the child spent the most nights gets to claim him. if this is a tie then

2) the parent with the highest adjusted gross income  

 

 

iRC 152(c)(4)

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

whose insurance the child is on has no bearing to the situation.

 

under the assumption, that the child lived with both of you for all 365 days of the year*, you get to claim him since you state you have the higher AGI.

 

* temporary absenses, (e.g. he took your son on a vacation for a week that you didn't attend) would still count as 'living with both of you".  

 

Careful also on the filing status - you can file 'HOH', his father can only file single'

TomD8
Level 15

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

AGI is not the determining factor for filing HOH.  The person who paid over half the cost of keeping up the home is the one entitled to file HOH.  The other, as @NCperson said, must file Single.

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

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

@TomD8  agreed that AGI is not a determinate of filing HOH....but...

 

under the assumption that the child lived with both parents for equal number of days (let's say 365), then the tie breaker is AGI, so Mom gets to claim the child since she stated she has the higher AGI

 

Then we get to filing status,  any maybe this is your point: Mom is the only one who could possibly file HOH as she has the qualifying child (and I'll assume Dad has no other qualifying children living in the home), but I see your point that she must provide more than 50% of the household expenses....otherwise she can't file HOH either.  in that case she would file single with one dependent and he'd file single with 0 dependents. 

 

 

 

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

As long as you both qualify, and you both agree to abide by your decision, the IRS tiebreaker rules don't matter. The tiebreaker rules only matter if you disagree about who should claim the child.  Your incomes don't matter.

 

The only way to know which way gets the lowest tax and highest refund is to test both ways.

 

Someone in the household must pay more than half the household expenses.  It only has to be $1 more than half, but someone must pay more than half.  This is usually the parent with the higher income, but not always, if the person with the higher income is saving their money, or is spending it outside the household on other expenses (such as child support or alimony).  

 

If the parent who pays more than half the expenses claims the child, that parent can also file as head of household, which has a slight tax reduction compared to single.  The other parent files as single with no dependent.  Or, the parent who pays less than half the household expenses can claim the child, but they have to file single, as does the other parent (because even though they pay more than half the expenses, they aren't claiming a dependent).

 

Those are your options, the only way to know for sure is to test it both ways.

 

For 2021 only, there is the added complication of the advance child tax credit and the stimulus.  If parent A received the $1400 stimulus check, but parent B claims the child on their tax return, parent B willl get a $1400 rebate and parent A will not have to repay the stimulus.  You are allowed to "double dip" in this case.

 

If parent A received the advance child tax credit (generally, $250 per month starting in July), but parent B claims the child on their tax return, parent B will get the full child tax credit.  Parent A might have to repay the advance payments, but parent A will not have to repay the advance if they are low income and qualify for repayment protection.  This is another case where double dipping might be allowed.

 

Turbotax will include all these factors.  If you are filing online, you will want 4 separate online accounts with different passwords.  Parent A plus child, Parent B alone, Parent A alone, and parent B plus child.  Only file the two returns that match the situation you choose.  AND, when preparing the returns, the return that does not claim the child should not enter the child's name in any form, and the parent who is claiming the child should answer "no" to any question about custody agreements, because that only applies to parents who live apart and share custody. 

rjs
Level 15
Level 15

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

If you are going to prepare multiple trial tax returns to try out the different options, it's much easier to use the CD/Download TurboTax software instead of TurboTax Online. You buy one copy of the software, and you can prepare as many returns as you want. Save each return with a different descriptive name. Also, after you prepare one return, you can save a copy of it with a different name, then modify the copy to try out a different option, instead of doing a whole new tax return from scratch.

 

TomD8
Level 15

My son is on his father's health insurance, but I have a higher adjusted gross income. We are not married, but live together. Who should claim our son?

@NCperson --

 

"Mom is the only one who could possibly file HOH as she has the qualifying child..."

 

 The child can be the "qualifying child" of either parent.  The family's options are as described by @Opus 17 .

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