Man beats IRS, gets to claim tax exemption for child

After a divorce, which parent gets to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes? Usually, it’s the parent with whom the child spends the most time during the year. If the other parent wants to claim the exemption, the IRS typically requires the first parent to sign a form agreeing to this arrangement.

However, one man who didn’t have a signed form took the IRS to court and won.

After a divorce in New York, the mother got primary custody, but the divorce court awarded the dependency exemption to the father. The mother promised to sign the required IRS form each year, as long as the father stayed up-to-date on his child support payments.

The father paid his child support, but one year the mother refused to sign the form anyway. The father claimed the exemption on his taxes, and he attached a copy of the separation agreement to his tax return as proof that he was entitled to it.

The IRS denied the exemption, saying the separation agreement wasn’t a sufficient substitute for the form.

But the man went to court, and the U.S. Tax Court sided with him. It said the IRS was wrong, and he had adequately proven that he was entitled to the exemption.