Well the day has finally arrived, the dreaded tax deadline day. I E-filled mine last night paying $8500 in taxes but went to bed feeling good and refreshed. The I woke up to a couple emails…
State tax return, accepted! Yea! Federal tax return rejected. Oh Noes! Anxiety returns!!
Dependents and Divorce
I should have seen it coming but I thought I had headed it off. I am divorced and have a son with that marriage. He has lived with me since separation and I have claimed him as my dependent. It wasn’t always easy as she felt it was unfair that I always got to claim him and she even tried one year I think. I would send her a copy of the rules and that would be the last I heard of it. You see he lived with me and during the summer we would alternate weeks so he legally lived with me more than 50% of the year. We also had a separation agreement that was adopted in the divorce that gave me physical custody.
Along comes this year where my son finally graduates High School, a week later he decides to stay with his mom. With this it seems she couldn’t wait to jump and claim him as a dependent as she called and told me so in Jan or Feb. Tried again to explain the rules to her and I thought she saw it but guess not (or she had already filled).
He was home till late June have you so on face value it looks like he was in our home for more than 50% of the year, but there was the spring break and every other weekend thing. Also he didnt really stay with her for the rest of the year either. Thanksgiving on (I believe) he was actually up in Idaho with grandparents getting ready for Idaho State. So it would come down to counting nights in each persons home to determine who could actually claim him and it may get close.
Today I just removed him from the tax return, kinda like the final nail that he is actually on his own. Mainly to just get it filed and done with, ends up costing an extra $500 in taxes (well a bit more as now I owe state as well). If I really feel like it I will do the math and perhaps file an amended return later. I hate doing so, again as I dont like to cause ripples and this would most likely end up in some sort of audit. Even though Im sure I would be in the right it is time to move on. My son is more than a tax right off and Im not going to get into arguments over this last claim. She did take out a loan for him to go to college this year so perhaps Ill just give her this one and try to work on my relationship with my son as a person and not a write off.
I did want to post this for a couple reasons though. For one it helps as always for me to put my thoughts out there, it calms the anxious feelings (most of the time) and helps me organize. Second for those of you out there in the same situation I hope you can learn from what has happened to me. If you get separated or divorced with kids and you are fortunate enough to have the kids stay with you there are a couple things you should do. I know it sounds cold but its for your protection.
- Get it in writing, especially if its a separation. If you cant afford a lawyer to do so draw up an agreement between you and both of you sign it with a notary. I found a sample separation agreement online and used that. It divided up the debts and money and such but also stated the terms for the custody, visitations, and child care. If you can get it right in there who claims the children for tax purposes.
- In case it ever comes up as a point of contention keep a log and document each and every day and night that the kids are with you. The IRS rules are pretty simple, there are 365 days in the year and if you can prove that the kids are with you 183 of those dates then the right is yours.
- Document all money spent on the kids for support. This does not include Disneyland trips, but rather the meals, clothing, child care, and even a portion of the rent/mortgage. If it comes down to it being able to show that you provided 51% or more of the support for raising your kids you will win out as well.