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What do I do if someone else claimed my dependent?

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someone else claimed my dependent

In the worst case scenario, the IRS rejects your tax return.

Someone else claimed my dependent. What should I do? Luckily, the IRS gives you options in case you’re stuck in this situation.

Unfortunately, the IRS cannot disclose who claimed your dependent. Typically it’s either the other parent, their child claimed themselves as an exemption on their individual tax return, another member of the household such as the grandparent, or any other person that lived with the child for a portion of the year.

What you need to do.

If you’re filing a current year return, you may receive a rejection due to your dependent’s social security number. In this case, you should double-check that you reported their SSN correctly.

If it is reported correctly, you will need to paper file your return; meaning you must print, sign and mail your return to the IRS. You cannot e-file it since the IRS will reject it again.

You may receive a CP87A Notice which notifies each party that if they incorrectly claimed the dependent, they need to file an amended tax form. If you can rightfully claim the dependent, you do not need to respond to this notice. In order to dispute the claim of your dependent, you will need to attach a cover letter along with your tax return (claiming your dependent) explaining your circumstance, proof of why you’re entitled to claim the dependent (school records, medical records etc.) and you meet the qualifications to be able to claim your dependent.

This entire process takes 8 to 12 weeks since the IRS needs to gather all the information to examine and determine the results from both returns. If you have further questions, you can contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Here’s a reminder on who you can claim as a dependent.

For qualifying children, these are the terms.

  • A U.S. citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • Your son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, foster child, grandchild, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, niece or nephew
  • The end of the year, your child was younger than 19 or younger than 24 if a full-time student
  • Your child was any age and permanently disabled
  • Your child must live with you in the United States for more than half of the year
  • The child did not file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child’s spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.

For qualifying relatives, they must meet the following:

  • A U.S. citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • They are not eligible to be your qualifying child and cannot be someone else’s qualifying child
  • They are living with you for the entire year as a member of the household or your family member such as: your child, adopted child, stepchild, grandchild, in-law, sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling, step-parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew
  • Divorce or death does not change any relationship established by marriage (son-in-law or daughter-in-law)
  • The person must have made less than $4,050 in gross income during 2017
  • You provided more than half of their support during the year

What if my ex claimed my dependent?

Typically, the IRS entitles the custodial parent (the parent who lived with the child for the majority of the year) the right to claim the dependent. The non-custodial parent is the other parent. In the case of divorce, parents can come to an agreement of sharing the rights to claiming their child.

For example, every other year, the custodial parent can claim their child for the dependent exemption or the Earned Income Credit. The non-custodial parent would be able to file the other option that the custodial parent didn’t choose.

If your ex claims your dependent without adhering to the agreement, you will need to provide the IRS with the decree stating that it’s your turn to claim your child.

Take preventative measures.

The IRS doesn’t have a guaranteed safeguard for tax fraud and identity theft. One way you can combat this from happening again is filing as soon as you’re able to in January. This ensures that no one else is able to claim your dependent.

We’re here to help.

Use PriorTax to file your tax returns going back to 2005. All you need to do is create an account, enter your tax information and submit your account so we can prepare your tax return. All you need to do is download a PDF of your tax return, print, sign and mail your return to the IRS! Don’t wait.

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2 Responses to “What do I do if someone else claimed my dependent?”


  1. Gwendoyn Harris

    My tax preparer passed away and uncertain if he filed an admendment for someone claiming my foster son.

    • Manisha Hansraj

      You can contact the IRS directly to find out if an amendment was filed using your social security number.

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