Ask Cari: Divorced Parents and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Cari Rincker Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

Can the custodial parent claim the Earned Income Tax Credit while the noncustodial parent claims a different tax credit?

 After a divorce with children, it can be very confusing when it comes to figuring out which parent can claim which child tax credit. In most circumstances, only one parent is able to claim a child for the following tax credits:

  1. Head of household filing status;
  2. The child tax credit (credit for other dependents);
  3. The dependent care credit (exclusion for dependent care benefits);
  4. The dependent care credit (exclusion for dependents care benefits); and
  5. The Earned income Tax Credit (ETIC).

However, there is an exception for parents who lived apart for the last 6 months of a year. If specific requirements are met, then the non-custodial parent can claim the child tax credit (credit for other dependents), while the custodial parent claims the ETIC. In order to qualify for the exception, you must have “lived apart your spouse for the last 6 months” of the year, or be “legally separated according to your state law under a written separation agreement or decree of separate maintenance and you didn’t live in the same household as your spouse at the end” of the year. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. IRS Pub. 596.



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