Help me through the confusion of tax season
February 24, 2010 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me figure out head of household as we move in to tax season?

I'm trying to get some ducks in a row before filing taxes, specifically around "head of household" status.

I have a child (little kid, under 18) that I have joint custody with her mother. We live apart, but close, and each house our daughter approximately half the time. I make more than she does; I pay for the child care expenses, which add up to about 10K (this is NYC).

So, we are working cooperatively on taxes this year, and figuring out who might benefit most from taking the kiddo as a dependent.

But I've run a few scratch run-throughs, and it seems like (depending on what status is claimed) one of us gets a large return with the dependent, the other owes a huge bill to the IRS. Is there a better way to balance this out a bit, and not leave one of us owing?

So therein lies my query(ies):

1. Is is possible for her to be "single" with the child dependent, and me to claim head of household, no dependent?

2. Is there any feasible way for us both to claim head of household, one with dependent, one without? I understand we can not both claim our daughter as a dependent.

3. Am I missing something, like a particular credit I should be claiming?

I acknowledge my cluelessness, and will be filing via a real life expert, but please give me some perspective, if you can.
posted by RajahKing to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Check the IRS info on the subject. As far as I can tell, you cannot be a head of household without qualifying dependants.

Nice try though. Work with that expert.
posted by valkyryn at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2010

The short answer to all of your questions is "No".

How about whoever gets the refund contributes it to the taxes owed by the other person?
posted by Old Geezer at 11:17 AM on February 24, 2010

You can't claim head of household without a dependent, but I am not sure how to balance this out other than Old Geezer's suggestion. I have an awesome accountant in NYC who could answer this much better than we can. MeMail me if you want his contact info.
posted by bedhead at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2010

Only one person can claim deductions/exemptions relating to a particular dependent. Here is a good IRS publication on info for divorced or separated couples.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:35 PM on February 24, 2010

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