Which Parent Gets to Claim Child on Tax Returns in Pennsylvania?


Which Parent Gets to Claim Child on Tax Returns in Pennsylvania?

If you are a parent with custody of your child, you may be wondering whether you are entitled to claim your child on your tax returns.  Understanding the rules can help you make smarter financial decisions.  In this post, we will delve into the factors involved in determining which parent gets to claim a child as a dependent in the state of Pennsylvania.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the general rule is the parent having custody of a child for a greater portion of the year is entitled to claim the child as a dependent on his or her tax returns, as that parent is treated as having provided more than one-half of the child’s total support.  This rule applies to divorced and separated couples, as well as parents who live apart at all times during the last six months of the calendar year.  This rule also assumes that both custodial parents aggregately have custody for more than one-half of the year and provide more than one-half of the child’s support.

It is important to note that parents may also to agree on who gets to claim the child as a dependent.  The general rule entitling the primary custodian to the dependency exemption is subject to a few exceptions, including: (1) the custodial parent, in writing, releases his or her claim to the exemption to the non-custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent attaches the written release to their filed tax return; or (2) the parents agree that the non-custodial parent shall have the right to claim the child as their dependent in a separation agreement or a marital settlement agreement.

In situations where shared physical custody exists, only one of the parents can claim the child as a dependent on his or her tax returns.  In situations where there is no agreement between the parents, the parent with physical custody for the majority of the year generally has the right to claim the child as a dependent.  In cases where physical custody is evenly split, the parent with the higher income is entitled to claim the child as a dependent.

Another key point to keep in mind is that eligibility for the dependency exemption generally determines which parent can claim the child care credit.

In summary, whether you are a parent with primary custody or are navigating a joint custody arrangement, it is important to consider the financial implications of claiming a child as a dependent, as well as any potential tax credits that you may be eligible for. By being proactive and informed, parents can make the most of their tax returns and ensure the financial security of their families. If you are concerned about how your tax filings will affect you and your family, contact one of our lawyers today to help navigate your situation.


About the author

About Andrew Francos

Andrew graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics. During his time there, Andrew was a two-time letterman for Franklin and Marshall’s Division I wrestling program. After college, Andrew attended Widener University Commonwealth Law School, where he was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. After graduating from Widener in May 2022, Andrew passed the Pennsylvania Bar Exam and accepted his current position at LaMonaca Law. Andrew brings with him a strong commitment to family values and looks forward to serving clients with the same level of zeal as he would expect his family to receive.