IRS Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax
There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for
dependents. While these are both worth the same amount, different rules apply to each
You are generally allowed one exemption for yourself and, if you are married,
one exemption for your spouse. These are called personal exemptions.
Your Own Exemption
You can take one exemption for yourself unless you can be claimed as a
dependent by another taxpayer.
Single persons. If another taxpayer is entitled to claim you as a dependent,
you cannot take an exemption for yourself. This is true even if the other taxpayer does
not actually claim your exemption.
Married persons. If you file a joint return, you can take your own exemption.
If you file a separate return, you can take your own exemption only if another taxpayer is
not entitled to claim you as a dependent.
Your Spouse's Exemption
Your spouse is never considered your dependent. You may be able to take one
exemption for your spouse only because you are married.
Joint return. On a joint return you can claim one exemption for yourself and
one for your spouse.
If your spouse had any gross income, as defined in chapter 1, you can claim his or her exemption only if you file a
Separate return. If you file a separate return, you can claim the exemption for
your spouse only if your spouse had no gross income and was not the dependent of
another taxpayer. This is true even if the other taxpayer does not actually claim your
spouse's exemption. This is also true if your spouse is a nonresident alien.
Death of spouse. If your spouse died during the year, you can generally claim
your spouse's exemption under the rules just explained under Joint return and Separate
If you remarried during the year, you cannot take an exemption for your
If you are a surviving spouse without gross income and you remarry, you can be
claimed as an exemption on both the final separate return of your deceased spouse and the
separate return of your new spouse whom you married in the same year. If you file a joint
return with your new spouse, you can be claimed as an exemption only on that return.
Divorced or separated spouse. If you obtained a final decree of divorce or
separate maintenance by the end of the year, you cannot take your former spouse's
exemption. This rule applies even if you provided all of your former spouse's support.
Exemptions for Dependents
You are allowed one exemption for each person you can claim as a dependent.
You can claim an exemption for a person if all five of the exemption
tests, discussed later, are met. You can take an exemption for your dependent even if your
dependent files a return. But that dependent cannot claim his or her own personal
exemption if you are entitled to do so. However, see Joint Return Test, later in
Child tax credit. Beginning in 1998, you may be entitled to a child tax credit
for each of your qualifying children for whom you can claim an exemption. For more
information see chapter 35.
Child born alive. If your child was born alive during the year, and the
exemption tests are met, you can take the full exemption. This is true even if the child
lived only for a moment. Whether your child was born alive depends on state or local law.
There must be proof of a live birth shown by an official document, such as a birth
Stillborn child. You cannot claim an exemption for a stillborn child.
Death of dependent. If your dependent died during the year and otherwise met
the exemption tests, you can take an exemption for your dependent.
Example. Your dependent mother died on January 15. The five exemption
tests are met. You can take a full exemption for her on your return.
Housekeepers, maids, or servants. If these people work for you, you cannot
claim exemptions for them.
Exemption tests. The following five tests must be met for you to claim an
exemption for a dependent.
- Member of Household or Relationship Test.
- Citizenship Test.
- Joint Return Test.
- Gross Income Test.
- Support Test.
Member of Household or Relationship Test
To meet this test, a person must live with you for the entire year as a member
of your household or be related to you. If at any time during the year the person was your
spouse, that person cannot be your dependent. However, see Personal Exemptions, earlier.
Temporary absences. A person lives with you as a member of your household even
if either (or both) of you are temporarily absent due to special circumstances. Temporary
absences due to special circumstances include absences because of illness, education,
business, vacation, and military service.
If the person is placed in a nursing home for an indefinite period of time to
receive constant medical care, the absence is considered temporary.
Death or birth. A person who died during the year, but was a member of your
household until death, will meet the member of household test. The same is true for a
child who was born during the year and was a member of your household for the rest of the
year. The test is also met if a child would have been a member except for any required
hospital stay following birth.
Test not met. A person does not meet the member of household test if at any
time during your tax year the relationship between you and that person violates local law.
Relatives not living with you. A person related to you in any of the following
ways does not have to live with you for the entire year as a member of your household to
meet this test.
- Your child, grandchild, great grandchild, etc. (a legally adopted child is
considered your child).
- Your stepchild.
- Your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister.
- Your parent, grandparent, or other direct ancestor, but not foster parent.
- Your stepfather or stepmother.
- A brother or sister of your father or mother.
- A son or daughter of your brother or sister.
- Your father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law,
Any of these relationships that were established by marriage are not ended by
death or divorce.
Adoption. Before legal adoption, a child is considered to be your child if he
or she was placed with you for adoption by an authorized agency. Also, the child must have
been a member of your household. If the child was not placed with you by an authorized
agency, the child will meet this test only if he or she was a member of your household for
your entire tax year.
Foster child. A foster child must live with you as a member of your household
for the entire year to qualify as your dependent.
Cousin. You can claim an exemption for your cousin only if he or she lives with
you as a member of your household for the entire year. A cousin is a descendant of a
brother or sister of your father or mother and does not qualify under the relationship
Joint return. If you file a joint return, you do not need to show that a person
is related to both you and your spouse. You also do not need to show that a person is
related to the spouse who provides support.
For example, your spouse's uncle who receives more than half his support from
you may be your dependent, even though he does not live with you. However, if you and your
spouse file separate returns, your spouse's uncle can be your dependent only if he
is a member of your household and lives with you for your entire tax year.
To meet the citizenship test, a person must be a U.S. citizen or resident, or a
resident of Canada or Mexico, for some part of the calendar year in which your tax year
Children's place of residence. Children usually are citizens or residents of
the country of their parents.
If you were a U.S. citizen when your child was born, the child may be a U.S.
citizen although the other parent was a nonresident alien and the child was born in a
foreign country. If so, and the other exemption tests are met, you can take the exemption.
It does not matter if the child lives abroad with the nonresident alien parent.
If you are a U.S. citizen who has legally adopted a child who is not a U.S.
citizen or resident, and the other exemption tests are met, you can take the exemption if
your home is the child's main home and the child is a member of your household for your
entire tax year.
Foreign students' place of residence. Foreign students brought to this country
under a qualified international education exchange program and placed in American homes
for a temporary period generally are not U.S. residents and do not meet the citizenship
test. You cannot claim exemptions for them. However, if you provided a home for a foreign
student, you may be able to take a charitable contribution deduction. See Expenses Paid
for Student Living With You in chapter 26.
Figure 3-A. Can You Claim an Exemption for a Dependent?
Joint Return Test
Even if the other exemption tests are met, you are generally not allowed an
exemption for your dependent if he or she files a joint return.
Example. You supported your daughter for the entire year while her
husband was in the Armed Forces. The couple files a joint return. Even though all the
other tests are met, you cannot take an exemption for your daughter.
Exception. The joint return test does not apply if a joint return is filed by
the dependent and his or her spouse merely as a claim for refund and no tax liability
would exist for either spouse on the basis of separate returns.
Example. Your son and his wife each had less than $2,000 of wages and no
unearned income. Neither is required to file a tax return. Taxes were taken out of their
pay, so they file a joint return to get a refund. You are allowed to take exemptions for
your son and daughter-in-law if the other exemption tests are met.
Gross Income Test
Generally, you cannot take an exemption for a dependent if that person had
gross income of $2,700 or more for the year. This test does not apply if the person is
your child and is either under age 19, or a student under age 24, as discussed later.
If you file on a fiscal year basis, the gross income test applies to the
calendar year in which your fiscal year begins.
Gross income defined. All income in the form of money, property, and services
that is not exempt from tax is gross income.
In a manufacturing, merchandising, or mining business, gross income is the
total net sales minus the cost of goods sold, plus any miscellaneous income from the
Gross receipts from rental property are gross income. Do not deduct taxes,
repairs, etc., to determine the gross income from rental property.
Gross income includes a partner's share of the gross, not a share of the net,
Gross income also includes all unemployment compensation and certain
scholarship and fellowship grants. Scholarships received by degree candidates that are
used for tuition, fees, supplies, books, and equipment required for particular courses are
not included in gross income. For more information, see chapter 13.
Tax-exempt income, such as certain social security payments, is not included in
Disabled dependents. For this gross income test, gross income does not
include income received by a permanently and totally disabled individual at a sheltered
workshop. The availability of medical care must be the main reason the individual is at
the workshop. Also, the income must come solely from activities at the workshop that are
incident to this medical care. A sheltered workshop is a school operated by certain
tax-exempt organizations, or by a state, a U.S. possession, a political subdivision of a
state or possession, the United States, or the District of Columbia, that provides special
instruction or training designed to alleviate the disability of the individual.
Child defined. For purposes of the gross income test, your child is your son,
stepson, daughter, stepdaughter, a legally adopted child, or a child who was placed with
you by an authorized placement agency for your legal adoption. A foster child who was a
member of your household for your entire tax year is also considered your child. See Foster
Child under 19. If your child is under 19 at the end of the year, the gross
income test does not apply. Your child can have any amount of income and you can still
claim an exemption if the other exemption tests, including the support test, are met.
Example. Marie, 18, earned $3,000. Her father provided more than half
her support. He can claim an exemption for her because the gross income test does not
apply and the other exemption tests were met.
Student under age 24. If your child is a student, the gross income test does
not apply if the child is under age 24 at the end of the calendar year. The other
exemption tests must still be met.
Student defined. To qualify as a student, your child must be, during
some part of each of 5 calendar months during the calendar year (not necessarily
- A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of
study, and regularly enrolled body of students in attendance, or
- A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school
described in (1) above or a state, county, or local government.
Full-time student defined. A full-time student is a person who is
enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time
School defined. The term "school" includes elementary schools,
junior and senior high schools, colleges, universities, and technical, trade, and
mechanical schools. It does not include on-the-job training courses, correspondence
schools, and night schools.
Example. James, 22, attends college as a full-time student. During the
summer, James earned $3,000. If the other exemption tests are met, his parents can take
the exemption for James.
Vocational high school students. People who work on "co-op"
jobs in private industry as a part of the school's prescribed course of classroom and
practical training are considered full-time students.
Night school. Your child is not a full-time student while attending
school only at night. However, full-time attendance at a school can include some
attendance at night as part of a full-time course of study.
You must provide more than half of a person's total support during the calendar
year to meet the support test. You figure whether you have provided more than half by
comparing the amount you contributed to the person's support with the entire amount of
support the person received from all sources. This amount includes the person's own funds
used for support. You cannot include in your contribution any part of your child's support
that is paid for by the child with the child's own wages, even if you pay the wages. See Total
A person's own funds are not support unless they are actually spent for
Example. Your mother received $2,400 in social security benefits and
$300 in interest. She paid $2,000 for lodging and $400 for recreation.
Even though your mother received a total of $2,700, she spent only $2,400 for
her own support. If you spent more than $2,400 for her support and no other support was
received, you have provided more than half of her support.
Year support is provided. The year you provide the support is the year you pay
for it, even if you do so with borrowed money that you repay in a later year.
If you use a fiscal year to report your income, you must provide more than half
of the dependent's support for the calendar year in which your fiscal year begins.
Armed Forces dependency allotments. The part of the allotment contributed by
the government and the part taken out of your military pay are both considered provided by
you in figuring whether you provide more than half of the support. If your allotment is
used to support persons other than those you name, you can take the exemptions for them if
they otherwise qualify.
Example. You are in the Armed Forces. You authorize an allotment for
your widowed mother that she uses to support herself and your sister. If the allotment
provides more than half of their support, you can take an exemption for each of them, if
they otherwise qualify, even though you authorize the allotment only for your mother.
Tax-exempt military quarters allowances. These allowances are treated
the same way as dependency allotments in figuring support. The allotment of pay and the
tax-exempt basic allowance for quarters are both considered as provided by you for
Tax-exempt income. In figuring a person's total support, include tax-exempt
income, savings, and borrowed amounts used to support that person. Tax-exempt income
includes certain social security benefits, welfare benefits, nontaxable life insurance
proceeds, Armed Forces family allotments, nontaxable pensions, and tax-exempt interest.
Example 1. You provide $4,000 toward your mother's support during the
year. She has earned income of $600, nontaxable social security benefit payments of
$4,800, and tax-exempt interest of $200. She uses all these for her support. You cannot
claim an exemption for your mother because the $4,000 you provide is not more than half of
her total support of $9,600.
Example 2. Your daughter takes out a student loan of $2,500 and uses it
to pay her college tuition. She is personally responsible for the loan. You provide $2,000
toward her total support. You cannot claim an exemption for your daughter because you
provide less than half of her support.
Social security benefit payments. If a husband and wife each receive
payments that are paid by one check made out to both of them, half of the total paid is
considered to be for the support of each spouse, unless they can show otherwise.
If a child receives social security benefits and uses them toward his or her
own support, the payments are considered as provided by the child.
Support provided by the state (food stamps, housing, etc.). Benefits
provided by the state to a needy person generally are considered to be used for support.
However, payments based on the needs of the recipient will not be considered as used
entirely for that person's support if it is shown that part of the payments were not used
for that purpose.
Foster care payments. Payments you receive for a foster child from a child
placement agency are considered support provided by the agency. Similarly, payments from a
state or county for foster care are considered support provided by the state or county.
Home for the aged. If you make a lump-sum advance payment to a home for the
aged to take care of your relative for life and the payment is based on that person's life
expectancy, the amount of your support each year is the lump-sum payment divided by the
relative's life expectancy. Your support also includes any other amounts that you provided
during the year.
To figure if you provided more than half of the support of a person, you must
first determine the total support provided for that person. Total support includes amounts
spent to provide food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental care, recreation,
transportation, and similar necessities.
Generally, the amount of an item of support is the amount of the expense
incurred in providing that item. Expenses that are not directly related to any one member
of a household, such as the cost of food for the household, must be divided among the
members of the household. For lodging, the amount of support is the fair rental value of
Example. Your parents live with you, your spouse, and your two children
in a house you own. The fair rental value of your parents' share of lodging is $2,000 a
year, which includes furnishings and utilities. Your father receives a nontaxable pension
of $4,200, which he spends equally between your mother and himself for items of support
such as clothing, transportation, and recreation. Your total food expense for the
household is $6,000. Your heat and utility bills amount to $1,200. Your mother has
hospital and medical expenses of $600, which you pay during the year. Figure your parents'
total support as follows:
|Fair rental value of lodging
|Pension spent for their support
|Share of food (1/6 of $6,000)
|Medical expenses for mother
|Parents' total support
You must apply the support test separately to each parent. You provide $2,000
($1,000 lodging, $1,000 food) of your father's total support of $4,100 -- less than half.
You provide $2,600 to your mother ($1,000 lodging, $1,000 food, $600 medical) -- more than
half of her total support of $4,700. You meet the support test for your mother, but not
your father. Heat and utility costs are included in the fair rental value of the lodging,
so these are not considered separately.
Table 3-1. Worksheet for Determining Support
Lodging defined. Lodging is the fair rental value of the room, apartment, or
house in which the person lives. It includes a reasonable allowance for the use of
furniture and appliances, and for heat and other utilities.
Fair rental value defined. This is the amount you could reasonably
expect to receive from a stranger for the same kind of lodging. It is used in place of
rent or taxes, interest, depreciation, paint, insurance, utilities, cost of furniture and
appliances, etc. In some cases, fair rental value may be equal to the rent paid.
If you are considered to provide the total lodging, determine the fair rental
value of the room the person uses, or a share of the fair rental value of the entire
dwelling if the person has use of your entire home. If you do not provide the total
lodging, the total fair rental value must be divided depending on how much of the total
lodging you provide. If you provide only a part and the person supplies the rest, the fair
rental value must be divided between both of you according to the amount each provides.
Example. Your parents live rent free in a house you own. It has a fair
rental value of $5,400 a year furnished, which includes a fair rental value of $3,600 for
the house and $1,800 for the furniture. This does not include heat and utilities. The
house is completely furnished with furniture belonging to your parents. You pay $600 for
their utility bills. Utilities are not usually included in rent for houses in the area
where your parents live. Therefore, you consider the total fair rental value of the
lodging to be $6,000 ($3,600 fair rental value of the unfurnished house, $1,800 allowance
for furnishings provided by your parents, and $600 cost of utilities) of which you are
considered to provide $4,200 ($3,600 + $600).
Person living in his or her own home. The total fair rental value of a
person's home that he or she owns is considered support contributed by that person.
If you help to keep up the home by paying interest on the mortgage, real estate
taxes, fire insurance premiums, ordinary repairs, or other items directly related to the
home, or give someone cash to pay those expenses, reduce the total fair rental value of
the home by those amounts in figuring that person's own contribution.
Example. You provide $6,000 cash for your father's support during the
year. He lives in his own home, which has a fair rental value of $6,600 a year. He uses
$800 of the money you give him to pay his real estate taxes. Your father's contribution
for his own lodging is $5,800 ($6,600 - $800 for taxes).
Living with someone rent free. If you live with a person rent free in
his or her home, you must reduce the amount you provide for support by the fair rental
value of lodging he or she provides you.
Property. Property provided as support is measured by its fair market value.
Fair market value is the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the
price that would be agreed upon between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither
being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.
Capital expenses. Capital items, such as furniture, appliances, and
cars, that are bought for a person during the year can be included in total support under
The following examples show when a capital item is or is not support.
Example 1. You buy a $200 power lawn mower for your 13-year-old child.
The child is given the duty of keeping the lawn trimmed. Because a lawn mower is
ordinarily an item you buy for personal and family reasons that benefits all members of
the household, you cannot include the cost of the lawn mower in the support of your child.
Example 2. You buy a $150 television set as a birthday present for your
12-year-old child. The television set is placed in your child's bedroom. You include the
cost of the television set in the support of your child.
Example 3. You pay $5,000 for a car and register it in your name. You
and your 17-year-old daughter use the car equally. Because you own the car and do not give
it to your daughter but merely let her use it, you cannot include the cost of the car in
your daughter's total support. However, you can include in your daughter's support your
out-of-pocket expenses of operating the car for her benefit.
Example 4. Your 17-year-old son, using personal funds, buys a car for
$4,500. You provide all the rest of your son's support -- $4,000. Since the car is bought
and owned by your son, the car's fair market value ($4,500) must be included in his
support. The $4,000 support you provide is less than half of his total support of $8,500.
You cannot claim an exemption for your son.
Medical insurance premiums. Medical insurance premiums you pay, including
premiums for supplementary Medicare coverage, are included in the total support you
Medical insurance benefits. Medical insurance benefits, including basic
and supplementary Medicare benefits, are not part of support.
Tuition payments and allowances under the GI Bill. Amounts veterans receive
under the GI Bill for tuition payments and allowances while they attend school are
included in total support.
Example. During the year, your son receives $2,200 from the government
under the GI Bill. He uses this amount for his education. You provide the rest of his
support -- $2,000. Because GI benefits are included in total support, your son is not your
Other support items. Other items may be considered as support depending on the
facts in each case. For example, if you pay someone to provide child care or disabled
dependent care, you can include these payments as support, even if you claim a credit for
them. For information on the credit, see chapter 33.
Do Not Include in Total Support
The following items are not included in total support.
- Federal, state, and local income taxes paid by persons from their own income.
- Social security and Medicare taxes paid by persons from their own income.
- Life insurance premiums.
- Funeral expenses.
- Scholarships received by your child if your child is a full-time student.
- Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance payments used for support of
the child who receives them.
Multiple Support Agreement
Sometimes no one provides more than half of the support of a person. Instead,
two or more persons, each of whom would be able to take the exemption but for the support
test, together provide more than half of the person's support.
When this happens, you can agree that any one of you who individually provides
more than 10% of the person's support, but only one, can claim an exemption for
that person. Each of the others must sign a written statement agreeing not to claim the
exemption for that year. The statements must be filed with the income tax return of the
person who claims the exemption. Form 2120, Multiple Support Declaration, is used
for this purpose.
Example 1. You, your sister, and your two brothers provide the entire
support of your mother for the year. You provide 45%, your sister 35%, and your two
brothers each provide 10%. Either you or your sister can claim an exemption for your
mother. The other must sign a Form 2120 or a written statement agreeing not to take an
exemption for her. Because neither brother provides more than 10% of the support, neither
can take the exemption. They do not have to sign a Form 2120 or the written statement.
Example 2. You and your brother each provide 20% of your mother's
support for the year. The remaining 60% of her support is provided equally by two persons
who are not related to her. She does not live with them. Because more than half of her
support is provided by persons who cannot claim an exemption for her, no one can take the
Example 3. Your father lives with you and receives 25% of his support
from social security, 40% from you, 24% from his brother, and 11% from a friend. Either
you or your uncle can take the exemption for your father. A Form 2120 or a written
statement from the one not taking the exemption must be attached to the return of the one
who takes the exemption.
Support Test for Divorced or Separated Parents
The support test for a child of divorced or separated parents is based on
special rules that apply only if:
- The parents are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or
separate maintenance, or separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at
all times during the last 6 months of the calendar year,
- One or both parents provide more than half of the child's total support for the
calendar year, and
- One or both parents have custody of the child for more than half of the calendar
"Child" is defined earlier under Gross Income Test.
This discussion does not apply if the support of the child is determined under
a multiple support agreement, discussed earlier.
Figure 3-B. Support Test for Children of Divorced or
Custodial parent. The parent who has custody of the child for the greater part
of the year (the custodial parent) is generally treated as the parent who provides more
than half of the child's support. It does not matter whether the custodial parent actually
provided more than half of the support.
Custody. Custody is usually determined by the terms of the most recent
decree of divorce or separate maintenance, or a later custody decree. If there is no
decree, use the written separation agreement. If neither a decree nor agreement
establishes custody, then the parent who has the physical custody of the child for the
greater part of the year is considered to have custody of the child. This also applies if
the validity of a decree or agreement awarding custody is uncertain because of legal
proceedings pending on the last day of the calendar year.
If the parents are divorced or separated during the year and had joint custody
of the child before the separation, the parent who has custody for the greater part of the
rest of the year is considered to have custody of the child for the tax year.
Example 1. Under the terms of your divorce, you have custody of your
child for 10 months of the year. Your former spouse has custody for the other 2 months.
You and your former spouse provide the child's total support. You are considered to have
provided more than half of the support of the child. However, see Noncustodial parent, later.
Example 2. You and your former spouse provided your child's total
support for 1998. You had custody of your child under your 1993 divorce decree, but on
August 31, 1998, a new custody decree granted custody to your former spouse. Because you
had custody for the greater part of the year, you are considered to have provided more
than half of your child's support.
Noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent is the parent who has custody of
the child for the shorter part of the year or who does not have custody at all.
The noncustodial parent will be treated as providing more than half of the
child's support if:
- The custodial parent signs a written declaration that he or she will not claim
the exemption for the child, and the noncustodial parent attaches this written declaration
to his or her return,
- A decree or agreement went into effect after 1984 and states the noncustodial
parent can claim the child as a dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment
of support, or
- A decree or agreement executed before 1985 provides that the noncustodial parent
is entitled to the exemption, and he or she provides at least $600 for the child's support
during the year, unless the pre-1985 decree or agreement is modified after 1984 to specify
that this provision will not apply.
Example. Under the terms of your 1983 divorce decree, your former spouse
has custody of your child. The decree specifically states that you are entitled to the
exemption. You provide at least $600 in child support during the calendar year. You are
considered to have provided more than half of the child's support.
Written declaration. The custodial parent should use Form 8332, Release
of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a similar
statement, to make the written declaration to release the exemption to the noncustodial
parent. The noncustodial parent must attach the form or statement to his or her tax
The exemption can be released for a single year, for a number of specified
years (for example, alternate years), or for all future years, as specified in the
declaration. If the exemption is released for more than one year, the original release
must be attached to the return of the noncustodial parent for the first year of such
release, and a copy of the release must be attached to the return for each succeeding
taxable year for which the noncustodial parent claims the exemption.
Divorce decree or separation agreement. If your divorce decree or
separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and it states you can claim the child as
your dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment of support, you can attach
a copy of the following pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332.
- Cover page (write the other parent's social security number on this page).
- The page that states you can claim the child as your dependent.
- Signature page with the other parent's signature and the date of the agreement.
If your divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and
it states that you can claim the child as your dependent if you meet certain conditions,
you must attach to your return Form 8332 or a similar statement from the custodial parent
releasing the exemption.
Child support. All child support payments actually received from the
noncustodial parent are considered used for the support of the child.
Example. The noncustodial parent provides $1,200 for the child's
support. This amount is considered support provided by the noncustodial parent even if the
$1,200 was actually spent on things other than support.
Paid in a later year. If you fail to pay child support in the year it is
due, but pay it in a later year, any payment of the overdue amount is not child support
either for the year it was due or for the year in which it is paid. It is payment of an
amount owed to the custodial parent, but it is not child support provided by you.
Example. You owed but failed to pay child support last year. This year,
you pay all of the amount owed from last year and the full amount due for this year. Your
payment of this year's child support counts as child support for this year, but the
payment of the amount owed from last year does not count as child support either for this
year or for last year.
Third-party support. Support provided by a third party for a divorced or
separated parent is not included as support provided by that parent. However, see Remarried
Example. You are divorced. During the entire year, you and your child
live with your mother in a house she owns. The fair rental value of the lodging provided
by your mother for your child is $3,000. The home provided by your mother is not included
in the amount of support you provide.
Remarried parent. If you remarry, the support provided by your new
spouse is treated as provided by you.
Example. You have two children from a former marriage who live with you.
You have remarried and are living in a home owned by your new spouse. The fair rental
value of the home provided to the children by your new spouse is treated as provided by
Home jointly owned. If you and your former spouse have the right to use
and live in the home, each of you is considered to provide half of your child's lodging.
However, if the divorce decree gives only you the right to use and live in the home, you
are considered to provide your child's entire lodging. It does not matter if the legal
title to the home remains in the names of both parents.
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