Dependent Pages

Someone Claimed My Dependent. What Do I Do?


Was your tax return either rejected because a child or dependent of yours was claimed incorrectly by another taxpayer e.g. ex-spouse, partner, parent, grandparent etc? Or, you just know that your child or dependent was claimed incorrectly by another person and are not sure what to do next?

  • A tax return rejection is not a validation that the other taxpayer is indeed entitled to claim your dependent. The rejection is only the result of the same social security number being claimed twice, when a SSN can only be claimed once for a given tax year.
  • Custodial Parent: Generally, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child spend with or lived most nights during the year e.g. 182/183 days/nights (residency test). The other parent is the noncustodial parent.
  • Parents who are divorced, separated, or never got married and now live apart but share custody of a child with either an ex-spouse or ex-partner need to follow the specific rules when it comes to claiming a child or dependent on a tax tax return.
    Attention: The custodial parent can release the dependency exemption to the non-custodial parent - by completing Form 8332 and/or Form 2120 - Multipe Support Declaration.
  • Generally, you should discuss with concerned family members, the claiming of children before the situation of incorrect dependent claims occurs. 

Below are steps you can take to claim your legitimate status as the only taxpayer who is entitled to claim the dependent(s).

1. Are You Qualified To Claim the Child, Dependent?
Find out if the child or dependent meets the age, relationship, residency, support test to be claimed as your dependent.
Step 1: Start the Dependent Tool, Calculator. Answer only a few questions and you will know if you qualify to claim the dependent.
1.1 Did you Mistakenly Claim a Dependent on Your Tax Return?
If your return got accepted and you claimed a dependent incorrectly and wish to change this, prepare and file an IRS and State tax amendment or form 1040-X and remove the dependent from your tax return. Detailed instruction on how to prepare a tax amendment on
1.2 Transfer the Claim of a Dependent To Another Taxpayer
See Section 5. below about the right of a custodial parent to release the dependency exemption by completing and signing Form 8332 - Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent.
2. Prepare Your Tax Return
If you are indeed qualifed to claim a dependent who has been claimed for the tax year by another person, you can prepare a tax return on However, do not e-file the return but download, print and sign the return before you mail it to one of these IRS mailing addresses.
Step 2:  Sign Up OR Sign In to your Tax Return on
3. Prove You Are Qualified to Claim the Dependent to the IRS
Step 3: Complete Form 886-H-DEP and/or Form 886-H-EIC to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC. Not sure if you qualify for the EITC EICucator tool.

Supporting Documents

4. IRS Response
It might take the IRS 2 months after you mailed in the paper return and Form 866-H-DEP, before they will start to determine who’s entitled to claim the dependent.
I might receive a letter - CP87A see image below - stating your child was claimed on another return. It will explain further actions required by you.
The person who claimed the dependent will receive the same letter.
The IRS also might issue an audit letter, when you will need to provide proof that you’re entitled to claim the dependent. Be sure to reply completely and by the response deadline. After the IRS has decided the issue, either additional taxes, penalties, and interest might be applied on the person who incorrectly claimed the dependent.

See the sample letter or notice CP87A below

Supporting Documents

5. Custodial Dependent Release
The custodial parent can release the dependency exemption by completing and signing Form 8332 - Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. The noncustodial parent would then submit the Form 8332 with their tax return.
6. Obtain an IP-PIN for Your Dependent(s)
Each year starting in January, obtain a free IP-PIN from the IRS and protect your Dependent with this IP-PIN (Identity Protection - Personal Identification Number). This IP-PIN will prevent any unauthorized person e.g. ex-spouse, partner, family member etc. to e-file a tax return and claim your qualified dependent on their tax return(s). In order to do so, you must be the person who is qualified to claim the dependent and you must obtain the IP-PIN via the link below.
Obtain an IP-PIN for yourself and/or your dependents
7. Review Your Tax Return
At any time after you added forms, screens or page View your Tax Returns as a PDF file in your My Account.
8. Need Help With Forms?
9. More Information about Claiming Dependents