Dependent Tax Exemptions After a Divorce

A frequent question that arises in divorces is: Who gets the tax exemptions for the kids?

The Internal Revenue Code governs allocation of dependency exemptions under Section 152, and state law follows the Federal IRC.

In its briefest form, the parent who has custody of a child is automatically entitled to the exemption unless it is waived by that parent. Waiver is accomplished by means of agreement of the parents and execution of IRS Form 8332 which the claiming non-custodial parent must attach to his or her income tax return.

The Court now tells us that distribution of the tax exemption is a child support issue and so may be modifiable under the much more liberal rules governing child support awards.

For this reason, even if a custodial parent refuses to part with an income tax dependency exemption, a non-custodial parent may now petition the divorce court for redistribution of the exemption. Usually, the dependency exemptions are divided between the parents.

This, of course, can result in substantial tax savings to those tax payers in high tax brackets.

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