Amount of Financial Support Provided by Noncustodial Parent is Irrelevant

Post Date: 9/24/12
Last Updated: 9/24/12


Cross References
• Walters, T.C. Memo. 2012-230

The dictionary definition of the word “dependent” is one who relies on someone or something else for aid and support. A recent court decision illustrates the fact that the Internal Revenue Code does not always follow the dictionary definition of a term.

The taxpayer was divorced from the mother of his two sons. The mother had custody of the children, and the taxpayer had visitation rights of two two-week periods in the summer and one week at Christmas. The taxpayer filed his 2009 tax return claiming his two sons as dependents, but did not attach Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, to his tax return, nor did he attach a similar written declaration that conformed to the substance of Form 8332.

The IRS disallowed the taxpayer’s dependency exemption deductions. In court, the taxpayer contended that he should be entitled to claim his sons as dependents because his ex-wife does not pay income tax. The taxpayer also contended that he is entitled to claim the deductions because he pays child support.

IRC section 152(e)(1) gives the dependency exemption to the parent having custody of the children for the greater portion of the calendar year (the custodial parent). IRC section 152(e)(2) provides an exception where the noncustodial parent may claim the exemption if the custodial parent executes a valid written declaration (such as Form 8332) releasing his or her claim to the exemption, and the noncustodial parent attaches that declaration to his or her income tax return.

The Court said it is required to apply the law as passed by Congress. Section 152 prevents a parent in the taxpayer’s circumstances from claiming a dependency exemption deduction, irrespective of the amount of financial support he provided his children.

Author's Comment: There is nothing unusual or unexpected about the Court’s decision. The interesting aspect of this case is the Court’s implication that the amount of financial support provided by the noncustodial parent is irrelevant, even if it represents 100% of the total support for both the custodial parent and the children.
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