FAQ
Top Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?

Answer:

To claim your child as your dependent, your child must meet either the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test:

  • To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and either younger than 19 years old or be a “student” younger than 24 years old as of the end of the calendar year.
  • There’s no age limit if your child is “permanently and totally disabled” or meets the qualifying relative test.

In addition to meeting the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, you can claim that person as a dependent only if these three tests are met:

  1. Dependent taxpayer test
  2. Citizen or resident test, and
  3. Joint return test

I received an incorrect Form W-2. My former employee wont issue me a corrected Form W-2. What should I do?

Answer:

If by the end of February, your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement has not been corrected by your employer after you attempted to have your employer or payer issue a corrected form, you can request that an IRS representative initiate a Form W-2 complaint. Call the IRS toll free at 800-829-1040 or make an appointment to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).

Depending on the time of year, the IRS may have federal wage information in the form of a wage transcript. See Topic 159 for more information on how to get a transcript of W-2 information.

When you call the IRS or visit a TAC office, please have the following information available:

  • Your employer’s or payer’s name and complete address including ZIP code, employer identification number if known (see your prior year’s Form W-2 if you worked for the same employer), phone number, and
  • Your name, address including ZIP code, social security number, phone number, and dates of employment.

If you file your return and attach Form 4852, you’ll need to estimate the wages you earned, taxes withheld, and the period you worked for that employer. You should base the estimate on year-to-date information from your final pay stub, if possible. When filing a Form 4852 instead of a Form W-2, there may be delays processing your refund while we verify the information you gave us.

To help protect your social security benefits, keep a copy of Form 4852 until you begin receiving social security benefits, just in case there’s a question about your work record and/or earnings in a particular year. After September 30 following the date shown on Form 4852 line 4, use a my Social Security online account or contact your local SSA office to verify wages reported by your employer.

If you receive a corrected Form W-2 after you filed your return with Form 4852, and the information differs from the information reported on your return, you must amend your return by filing Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

What's the difference between a Form W-2 and a Form 1099-MISC or Form 1099-NEC?

Answer:

Although these forms are called information returns, they serve different functions.

Employers use Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement to:

  • Report wages, tips, and other compensation paid to an employee.
  • Report the employee’s income and social security taxes withheld and other information.

Employers furnish the Form W-2 to the employee and the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration shares the information with the Internal Revenue Service.

Payers use Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income or Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation to:

  • Report payments made of at least $600 in the course of a trade or business to a person who’s not an employee for services (Form 1099-NEC).
  • Report payments of $10 or more made in the course of a trade or business in gross royalties or payments of $600 or more made in the course of a trade or business in rents or for other specified purposes (Form 1099-MISC).
  • Report payment information to the IRS and the person or business that received the payment.

We're the divorced or legally separated parents of one child. May each parent claim the child as a dependent for a different part of the tax year?

Answer:

No, an individual may be a dependent of only one taxpayer for a tax year. You can claim a child as a dependent if he or she is your qualifying child. Generally, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the longer period of time during the year.

However, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) applies. See Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals for more information. This rule requires in part, that both of the following conditions are met:

If the custodial parent releases a claim to exemption for a child, the noncustodial parent may claim the child as a dependent and as a qualifying child for the child tax credit or credit for other dependents. However, the noncustodial parent may not claim the child for the purpose of claiming head of household filing status, the earned income credit, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, or the health coverage tax credit.

My daughter was born on December 31st. May I claim her as a dependent and also claim the child tax credit?

Answer:

Yes, if your child was born alive during the year and the tests for claiming your child as a dependent are met, you may claim her as a dependent. You may also be entitled to claim:

  • The child tax credit (CTC) and/or additional child tax credit (ACTC)
  • Head of household filing status
  • The earned income credit (EIC)

For information about taxpayer identification number requirements, see the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR or My daughter was born at the end of the year. We’re still waiting for a social security number. May I file my return now and provide her social security number later?

Refer to Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction and Filing Information for more information.

My daughter was born at the end of the year. We're still waiting for a social security number. May I file my return now and provide her social security number later?

Answer:

If you file your return claiming your daughter as a dependent and don’t provide her social security number (SSN) on your return, the IRS will not allow you to claim her as a dependent.

You have two options:

  1. You may file your income tax return without claiming your daughter as a dependent. After you receive her SSN, you may then amend your return on Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and claim your daughter as a dependent. Generally, you have three years after the date you filed your original return or two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to amend your return.
  2. The other option is to file a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This option would give you an additional six months to file your return; by then you should have your daughter’s SSN. However, any tax owed is due at the filing due date without the extension.

You may also be eligible to claim the earned income credit (EIC) and/or the child tax credit/additional child tax credit (CTC/ACTC). Please note that you may not claim your child as a qualifying child for the EIC on either your original or an amended return if your child doesn’t have an SSN on or before the due date of your return (including extensions), even if your child later gets an SSN. Similarly, you may not claim your child as a qualifying child for the CTC/ACTC if your child doesn’t have an SSN before the due date of your return (including extensions), even if your child later gets an SSN. For more information about taxpayer identification number requirements, see the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR.

How much income can an unmarried dependent student make before he or she must file an income tax return?

Answer:

If you file your return claiming your daughter as a dependent and don’t provide her social security number (SSN) on your return, the IRS will not allow you to claim her as a dependent.

You have two options:

  1. You may file your income tax return without claiming your daughter as a dependent. After you receive her SSN, you may then amend your return on Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and claim your daughter as a dependent. Generally, you have three years after the date you filed your original return or two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to amend your return.
  2. The other option is to file a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This option would give you an additional six months to file your return; by then you should have your daughter’s SSN. However, any tax owed is due at the filing due date without the extension.

Answer:

An unmarried dependent student must file a tax return if his or her earned or unearned income exceeds certain limits. To find these limits, refer to “Dependents” under “Who Must File” in Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction and Filing Information. You can also refer to Do I Need to File a Tax Return? to see if your income requires you to file.

Even if you don’t have to file a federal income tax return, you should file if you can get money back (for example, you had federal income tax withheld from your pay or you qualify for a refundable tax credit). See “Who Should File” in Publication 501 for more examples.

My spouse and I are filing as married filing separately. We both contributed to the support of our child. Can we both claim him as a dependent on our separate returns?

Answer:

No, a child may only be claimed as a dependent on one return in a tax year.

For more information on which of you can claim your son, refer to Whom May I Claim as a Dependent?

Can a State Court determine who may claim a child as a dependent on a federal income tax return?

Answer:

Federal tax law is what determines who may claim a child as a dependent on a federal income tax return. Even if a state court order allocates the ability to claim the child to a noncustodial parent, the noncustodial parent must comply with the federal tax law to claim the dependent. The noncustodial parent must attach to his or her return a copy of the release of claim to exemption by the custodial parent, either a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent or a substantially similar document.

Refer to Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals for more information on the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart).

 

To qualify for head of household filing status, do i have to claim my child as a dependent?

Answer:

Generally, to qualify for head of household filing status, you must have a qualifying child or a dependent. However, a custodial parent may be eligible to claim head of household filing status based on a child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.

apart).

 

May a noncustodial parent claim the child tax credit for his or her child?

Answer:

Yes, a noncustodial parent may claim the child tax credit for his or her child if he or she is allowed to claim the child as a dependent and otherwise qualifies to claim the child tax credit.

A noncustodial parent must also attach to his or her return a Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement, signed by the custodial parent to claim the child as a dependent.

If you don’t have a taxpayer identification number (TIN) on or before the due date of your return (including extensions), you may not claim the child tax credit (CTC)/additional child tax credit (ACTC)/credit for other dependents (ODC) on either your original return or an amended return. However, if you apply for an ITIN on or before the due date for your return (including extensions) and the IRS issues you an ITIN as a result of the application, the IRS considers the ITIN as issued on or before the due date of the return. Also, you may not claim the CTC/ACTC on either your original or an amended return for a child who doesn’t have a social security number (SSN) valid for employment before the due date of your return (including extensions), even if that child later gets the required SSN. You may be eligible to claim the credit for other dependents for the child, if the child does not have the required SSN.

 

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