David A. Caplan, CPA, MBA - Certified Public Accountant

Q & A

If a man and a woman have a baby but have never been married to each other, can they both take the child as a dependent?
-C.D., Haverford, PA

First of all, I was always told that a man and a woman had to be married before they could have a baby, so I suppose I will need to speak to my parents about that. The obvious answer to this question is no. However, it is not limited to people who are not married. No one can be taken as a dependent by two or more people. The next logical question (at least by MY clients) is "If I do it, will I get caught?". The answer is a resounding YES. Since dependents are tracked by social security number, the IRS computers will very easily pick up this "mistake". A child is normally taken as a dependent by the parent who provides at least 50% of the support. This usually means the parent with whom the child resides, although different arrangements can be stated in divorce decrees, etc.

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