Claiming a dependent on your tax return can net you valuable deductions and credits. Only one taxpayer or a married couple may claim a child as a dependent, however. If someone else claimed your child, call the IRS and let it know. Then, file a paper return to claim your child.
Who Gets to Claim a Child
To claim a child, you must pass four basic tests. First, you must be related to the child by blood or adoption. Second, the child must have lived with you for more than half of tax year. Third, the child must be younger than 19 or under 24 and a full-time student. Lastly, the child can't have provided more than half of her own support during the year.
In some situations, more than one person passes the tests to claim a dependent. When this happens, the IRS decides who can claim the child based on a set of tie breaking rules. The IRS continues down the list of tie-breakers tests until one person wins. For example, the child's parent gets dependent precedence over other family members. If both parents claim the child, the parent the child lived with for more the year gets precedence, unless the custodial parent has relinquished the dependency exemption.
Report the Incident and Claim Your Child
If someone else already has claimed your child on his tax return, the IRS won't accept an e-filed return from you. Instead, file a paper copy of your return with the IRS. Before you file, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and let it know what's happening. RapidTax suggests that you include a cover letter with your return that explains the situation and provides evidence that you have the right to claim the child.