Can I claim my son as a dependent if I never married his mother?

April 28, 2003

Subject:  Help me on my one tax question

From:  Salvador
Date:  Wed, 08 Jan 2003

Hi, my name is Sal. I have a son who is living with his mother. My son is 16 years old. I pay child support, and someone told me I can claim my son if his mother agrees to it. I just want to tell you, we were never married. Now is this true? If so, which form can I use, the 8332 form or the 2120 form?

We agreed to do this on an alternating year. One year she claims him and the other year I do. Can you find out if I can do this, so I can finaish my taxes?

Thank you,


Date:  04 Apr 2003

According to the IRS, only persons who were formerly married can make the election to permit a non-custodial parent to claim a dependency exemption. However, the Tax Court said in Kerry L. Brignac (TC Memo 1999-387) that people who were never married can make the election.

The instructions for Form 8332 say you must have been married before to use the form. Form 2120 does not apply to this situation.

Therefore, I suggest that your son's mother write a letter to you, similar to Form 8332, agreeing to not claim the dependency exemption for your son for the applicable years. (Remember that to qualify to claim the exemption, you must provide more than one-half of your son's support.)

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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