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What to do when the non custodial parent, who has no rights to children, claims children on his taxes anyways?

My two son's father has NO parental rights to see his children.  However, he has asked several times if he can claim them on his taxes because he was ''broke.''  This usually resulted in me rushing to file my taxes as soon as the first w2 arrived in the mail. This year i havent filed yet, and Im worried that he already has and has claimed my sons on his return.  Will this affect MY return when I try to file?  If so, what steps need to be taken to be assured I get the appropriate refund.  Thanks.
    If he has already filed and claimed your children, when you EFile your return will be rejected with a duplicate ss number message. At that point your only recourse is to print the return and mail it in. The IRS will detect the   duplicate ss numbers and ask each one of you for proof that you are entitled to the deduction. Do NOT ignore the letter but provide the proof they askfor.  The IRS will then determine who is entitled to the deductions (sounds like you are). The other person will have to repay some of their refund and be subject to fines and penalties.
      This happened to me years ago and I pray it never happens again. My ex BF claimed my kids one year without even mentioning to me that he did. He didn't live with us and we weren't together at the time. He rarely saw the kids and did anything financially even less. No child support, no clothes, no food, etc. He told his family he paid me $500 to let him claim the kids, which was a lie.

      Anyway, when I went to efile, it was rejected, so I paper filed. Apparently the IRS sent both of us the refund we were expecting and later that year I received a letter from the IRS telling me that I owed the money back plus interest. They never even attempted to contact him or get the money back from him...that I know of. Well I called the IRS and of course I had to jump through some hoops. HR Block was a little help, but not much. I had to get information from the kids' doctor, info about rent paid from my landlord including the lease, info from the kids' school and they even wanted any mail as proof that my kids lived with me. I did this on my own and should have hired someone. After mail, faxes, and many phone calls later, it turned out in my favor, but they still wanted me to pay the interest. I just wanted it to be over so I paid it.

      Well, the next year I called the IRS to tell them I heard he was again trying to claim the kids. They said that although they couldn't discuss anything at all about someone else's tax situation, they could at least put a flag in their system.

      So in your situation, does he financially provide for them even if he can't see them? If so he may have the right to claim them as a dependent. In any case, I suggest you gather information now for 2010 to prove residency for your children along with any legal documents that say he can't see the kids. Otherwise, I would just paper file and expect to be contacted by the IRS at some point. If you can I'd hire an accountant to do your taxes. If you have a friend in the field or a friend of a friend, even better. Then they can know all the details and be prepared for the IRS.

      I wish you the best of luck!!!
        Thanks ladyvirtue, for the first hand account. It may have gotten a little easier, since then. Now the first letter from the IRS says to both of you: there's been a double claim and you should file an amended return. So, if the  person in the wrong will just do that, the person in the right  won't have to jump thru all those hoops. But, if he doesn't, what ladyvirtue described is pretty typical.

        One correction to ladyvirtue,s post: it does NOT matter if he provides financial support, he cannot claim the child without form 8332, from the custodial parent. Physical custody is what the IRS goes by.
          If he does try to claim more than likely it will make both returns subject to an audit. He would have to prove his has proved x-amount for the children. It would be a hassle but in the end you should be able to claim the kids and get the refund.
            The custodial parent has first priority on claiming the children on her taxes; regardless of the amount of support provided by the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent can only claim the child as a dependent if the custodial parent gives permission (on form 8332) or if it's spelled out in a pre 2009 divorce decree.
            There is a way to split the benefits:
            There is a special rule in the case of divorced & separated (including never married) parents. When the non-custodial parent is claiming the child as a dependent (exemption), child tax credit & education credits; the custodial parent is still allowed to claim the same child for Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status, and day care credit. This "splitting of the child" is not available to parents who lived together at any time during the last 6 months of the year; then only one of you can claim the child for any tax reasons. THE TAX BENEFITS MAY NOT BE SPLIT IN ANY OTHER MANNER.

            In particular, not that the non-custodial parent can never claim the Earned income Credit, which is probably the ,ain reason he wants to claim the child
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