• 5 Tax Tips for Single Moms–Establish qualifying dependents

There are conditions that determine if you can claim your child as a dependent. The Internal Revenue Service uses the custodial residency test, in most cases, to determine if you can claim your child as a dependent. However, if there’s a non-custodial father, the IRS can grant him the right to claim your child as a dependent if all these conditions apply:

  • You and your child’s father, whether married or not, lived apart for the last six months or are legally divorced or separated.
  • The child received at least half of his support from the parents for at least half of the year.
  • You and/or the child’s father have legal custody of him.
  • Either you provide a written waiver to not claim the child as your dependent or a pre-1984 legal agreement exists that allows the non-custodial father to claim the child as a dependent.
      • Claim the dependent exemption or dependent credit

      For tax years prior to 2018, the IRS allows a tax exemption to reduce the burden of caring for a child. “This can be a big plus for single moms,” advises Bill Symons, president of Computer Accounting Systems in Oswego, N.Y. “Claiming an exemption for each child can greatly reduce a single mom’s taxable income and in some cases, depending on her tax bracket, give her a bigger tax refund.” However, once a single mother’s adjusted gross income exceeds a certain amount, the deduction is phased out. For tax years after 2017, dependent exemptions are no longer available and have been replaced by a higher standard deduction and higher child tax credit (see below).

      • Include the child tax credit

      For tax years before 2018, a single mom filing as head of household and making less than $75,000 as of publication, can claim a $1,000 child tax credit for each child. For tax years after 2017, this amount increases to $2,000 per child and the income threshold before beginning to lose the credit increases to $200,000 for single or head of household filers. The credit amount comes off your tax bill. If you owe less than the child tax credit, you’ll receive the some or all as a refund. To qualify, the child must:

      • Be 16 years old or younger and be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, grandchild, niece, nephew or a legally adopted child
      • Have lived with you for more than six months
      • Be a United States citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien
      • Be your dependent
      • Have received more than half of their support from you If your dependent child does not qualify for the child tax credit, perhaps due to their age, you can still likely claim the lesser dependent credit instead.

      • Deduct childcare expenses

      If your dependent child is 12 years old or younger, and you pay for daycare while you work or look for work, you may be eligible for a childcare tax credit. To qualify you must have an income, is a full-time student, or be physically or mentally unable to care for yourself. The care provider must be older than 19 years of age, can’t be a parent of the qualifying child, and must be identified on your return. Depending on your income, the credit can be up to 35 percent of childcare costs. Any contributions to childcare expenses from an employer must be deducted from the total expense.

      These tips and deduction updates should help you navigate the complex changes in the new tax laws. If you have more questions please feel free to contact the staff of All About Tax LLC. at (704) 900-5266 or come by our office at 4822 Albemarle Rd. Suite 110-F Charlotte, North Carolina 28205. We are here to answer all your income tax filing questions and point you in the right direction to maximize your deductions.