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William Perez

Custodial Parents Can Claim the Child Care Tax Credit

By February 14, 2007

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Today's tax question comes from Katherine in Wisconsin. She asks:
"May I claim the day care expenses for my 1 year old daughter on the years I am not allowed to claim her as my exemption? Her father and I are no longer together and this year he gets to claim her on his taxes, yet I spent thousands of dollars on day care expenses for her this past year and would like to know if I can still write them off even though I cannot claim her."
Generally, you can claim the Child Care Tax Credit only if you claim your child as a dependent. However, there is an exception for children of divorced or separated parents. If you are the custodial parent, then you can claim the child and dependent care tax credit even if the father is entitled to claim the dependent's exemption this year.

Here's the rules to help you determine if you can claim this valuable tax credit.

"Even if you cannot claim your child as a dependent, he or she is treated as your qualifying person if:
  • "The child was under age 13 or was physically or mentally not able to care for himself or herself, and
  • "You were the child's custodial parent (the parent with whom the child lived for the greater part of 2006).
"The noncustodial parent cannot treat the child as a qualifying person even if that parent is entitled to claim the child as a dependent under the special rules for a child of divorced or separated parents." Source: IRS Publication 503
More information:
November 3, 2007 at 4:28 am
(1) Nursing Job says:

Dear William,

Thanks, for the info.

The source you have suggested is for USA, what are the law implications in other common wealth countries, for a similar case. I will be enriched if you can comment about that too.


November 13, 2007 at 3:36 pm
(2) taxes says:

Sorry, I only cover US taxes. You should consult with the tax department in your country for up to date information.

January 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm
(3) Josh says:

Hello and thank you for the great information.

My daughter has been living with me since Aug, her mother and I were never married but we are no longer together. Prior to that, she lived with her mother since the first of the year. I understand that she was with her mother for the greater part of the year, however, I gave more financial support for her then her mother did and have recipets to back it up. Can I claim her?

November 27, 2008 at 5:25 am
(4) Linda says:

Hi William,
I’m a single stay at home mom receiving welfare benefits and will not be filing a tax return this year. My child’s father is employed and paying court ordered child support. We have never been married and our child lives with me full time. I’m wondering if the father can claim her on his tax return. Also, I will be going back to work next year and will be claiming our child on my return for that year. What will happen if the father also claims her? Thanks.

July 23, 2009 at 11:05 am
(5) Jennah says:

My ex husband and I have been divorced since 2001, we have one child between us, and I am the custodial parent, although in the divorce decree we are suppose to share custody, and in specific, he is suppose to have him for two weeks during the summer break, and Christmas, Easter, and his birthday, and provide cost of any travel related expenses for that, 1/2 of daycare expenses, he has even years to claim on tax returns. This past 2008, apparently his return was rejected, because the IRS informed him that someone else had claimed our son on their return. Of course he suspected me, but I didnt claim him because it was an even year. He hired an attorney and is got a court date in an out of state court, and is forcing me to sign the 8332, even though our divorce decree has always served the same purpose. I would like to know, in regards to all the above, and the fact that he does not exercise any of the parental rights including sharing custody, for summer, or holidays, do I have any recourse other than having the divorce decree modified in court? Thank you

February 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm
(6) dulz says:

I’m an h4 visa holder, a mother of 3 kids 7, 5 and 4 years old, my question is can i claim my 3 kids who are an h4 visa holders too? Since my husband who is an h1b visa holder already filed his tax and forgot to claim them.

January 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm
(7) Stressed says:

I am a divorced & re-married mother of 2. My eldest daughter (born in 2000) is my ex-husbands. We divorced in 2005 (no child support order at the time). In our decree we had it written that I claim on Odd years and he claims on Even years. In 2007 I took him back to court for child support which was granted along with an updated custody agreement stating I have 65% he has 35% custody. At the end of 2010 he was not current on his child support (and has not been to date) and i was advised i would be able to claim my daughter even though it was his year to claim so my current husband and I did so. In Oct of 2012 i received notice from the IRS requesting documentation to prove my actions were just. I cant say for sure but my thought is he claimed her as well that year thus throwing up a “red flag” for the IRS. in reviewing some documents on IRS.gov and elswhere I am getting conflicting answers on being in the right or wrong when claiming her on his year when he is indeed behind in child support. If I’m proven wrong i will be paying back thousands of dollars when i was told i had the right to claim. PLEASE HELP!

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