Posted by The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

Steps To Take if Someone Else Claims Your Dependent

Steps To Take if Someone Else Claims Your Dependent

You may have tried filing your tax return and received a rejection email message.

Something like "A/The dependent on your return has already claimed (or claimed his/herself in another return)."

Assuming you entered the dependent information correctly, it looks like someone else has claimed your dependent. Because the IRS processes the first return they receive, the IRS will deny you the return if someone else claims your dependent first.

The Internal Revenue Service will not tell you who claimed your dependent. You can usually identify the possibilities and ask (usually an ex-spouse). But if you don't suspect that someone might have claimed the dependent, your dependent could be the victim of tax identity theft. 

If you believe that the other person did not have the right to claim your dependent, you will need to take certain steps to protect your right to claim the dependent and receive reimbursement.

Here's what to do

Do not panic. That doesn't mean you can't fix it. First of all, be sure to meet all the conditions to claim the dependent. Then follow these steps:

File a paper return.

Print and file the return claiming your dependents to the IRS. The IRS may delay the refund while the IRS investigates the problem, but you should still receive the refund. Keep in mind that when you file a paper return, the IRS can take six to eight weeks to process it.

Document your case.

The Internal Revenue Services rules for claiming a dependent can be complicated.

The most significant thing to remember is to prove that you have the right to claim the dependent with the proper documentation. This includes things like proof of identity and birth certificates, as well as documents showing that the dependent has lived with you at the same address for more than six months.

Some examples are:

  • An official letter on paper from the school, health care provider, social service agency, or place of worship, indicating common names, addresses, and dates.

  • School, medical, care, or social service records

The IRS will ask you to complete a document and send it.

Respond when the IRS contacts you.

Approximately two months after filing the paper return, the IRS will determine who can make a dependent claim.

You may receive a letter (CP87A) from the IRS notifying you that your dependent has been claimed in another return. They will inform you if you made a mistake and ask that you file an amended return, and if you haven't made a mistake, you are expected to do nothing.

The other person who has claimed the dependent will receive the same letter. If either of you does not file an amended return that eliminates the child-related benefits, the IRS will check on you and/or the other person to determine who can claim the dependent.

You will get a letter in a few months to start the audit. During the audit, the IRS will ask you to prove that you have the right to claim the dependent. Make sure you respond fully and before the IRS deadline. Once the IRS decides on the matter, the IRS will collect (or "assess") any additional fees, penalties, and interest from the person who wrongly claimed the dependent.

You can appeal the decision if you disagree with the outcome or take the matter to the United States tax court.

It is always a good idea to discuss a child's claimant with family members before such a situation arises, if possible.

For any dependent dispute, you know your options and your rights.

Disputes about dependents can cause many types of tax problems. To learn more about handling an IRS audit or what to do about tax refund holds and other tax reporting issues arising from dependent-related complaints.

And for any problem with the IRS, remember that you have the right to representation. You can outsource the work to a tax professional, who can investigate the cause of the problem and handle the IRS for you.



The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC
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