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Level 3

Slightly complicated issue involving dependents.

So most of my tax return came from my dependent (daughter). Turns out this year my old SSI bill of overpayment was to be taken out and I had no idea. Both my wife or I could have claimed our daughter (we filed seperately). What kind of issues would I run into if I ammended so my wife claimed the dependent besides the obvious bill I'd have from the IRS? Its pretty much my last resort since Social Security said I'm not getting the money back (according to the rep). I don't mind setting up a payment plan with the IRS and paying off the rest of it with next years return, was just kinda banking on my return this year..

4 Replies
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AJ
Level 11

Slightly complicated issue involving dependents.

To assist in providing a more focused answer, please provide additional information. The answers to the following questions would assist in determining what benefits might be applicable and legally allowed.

   - How old is your daughter?

   - Are you and your wife living together or apart?

   - With whom did your daughter live the most nights last year?

   - Finally, what is the expected benefit/purpose for filing Married Filing Separately instead of Married Filing Jointly?

Level 3

Slightly complicated issue involving dependents.

4
During that tax year yes, currently yes for now
Me
Separately just seemed to give us the most back while following all the rules.
AJ
Level 11

Slightly complicated issue involving dependents.

     You say that you have a 4-year-old child.  You also state that you picked MFS only based upon what "seemed to give" the biggest total return.  I would suggest making test returns to "know" what is best.  A joint return is one return that should be tested.

     I don't know the questions that the IRS would ask if you choose to amend to try to switch dependents. You might provoke some questions, and you need to be sure that you are  truthful and are not committing any fraud to manipulate refunds. As you indicated, the Social Security representative indicated that you are unlikely to get any money returned because you owed them the money.  And borrowing money to pay the IRS because your refund was used to pay money that you owed might be an endless trap.

     I cannot make a specific recommendation for your question.  But here is some information that I hope will be useful.  Because the child was with you more nights, then the dependency should be yours.  If nights are same, then using strict  dependency tie-breaker rules, the dependency would normally be applied to the person with the higher AGI since that person would usually tend to maximize the potential benefit from the child tax credit.  A portion of the child tax credit is non-refundable.  The non-refundable part can only be used to "pay taxes", while the Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit where money is refunded even if no more tax is owed.    

     Before going forward, you should look at what would happen if you filed jointly.  Filing MFS eliminates the possibility of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  MFS also likely eliminates getting any day care credits if you use day care to permit you and your wife to go to work. 

    Please run the MFJ scenario.  If your AGI/earned income is in the neighborhood of $45,000 or less, then the MFJ filing status might result in an EITC .  You cannot get EITC if you use MFS.

      If your spouse is not legally responsible for your debts, then MFJ can also be possible using the process for Injured Spouse.  I am not an expert in doing those tax returns, but here is a link with some information:

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/marriage/what-is-irs-form-8379-injured-spouse-allocation/L7tsrx...

 

AJ
Level 11

Slightly complicated issue involving dependents.

Because your daughter lived with you more then your spouse, then your daughter would normally be considered to be your dependent according to the order of  getting the dependency. 

     Please be aware that when filing separately, then you lose access to important tax credits. Please investigate the possibility of amending to Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) in order to see if you might qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit.  MFJ also permits the Child and Dependent Care credits (if child was in day care to let you and your wife work.)

     Also investigate Injured Spouse rules to see if they might help with your situation: 

https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/marriage/what-is-irs-form-8379-injured-spouse-allocation/L7tsrx...