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IRS Tie Breaker Rule

When more than one person files a tax return claiming the same qualifying child then the IRS uses the Tie Breaker Rule to decide who to give the tax exemption to.

The IRS Tie Breaker Rule table can be found in the IRS publication 17 page 30. Below is the table showing the Tie Breaker Rule which the IRS uses. To view the image below at full size, right click and then view.

IRS tie breaker rule

If your qualifying child is not a qualifying child of anyone else, then the test does not apply to you.

If the child is the qualifying child of more than one other person, only one of those persons can claim the child as a qualifying child for:

  • head of household tax filing status
  • the credit for child and dependent care expenses
  • the earned income credit

No other person can claim any of these three tax benefits unless he or she has a different qualifying child. If you and any other person file a tax return claiming the child as a qualifying child for any of these tax benefits, the IRS will disallow all but one of the claims using the Tie Breaker Rule.


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