Tax Credits For Single Parents

No matter whether you are a single parent to a teen or a toddler, there are some valuable tax benefits waiting in the wings for you, as long as you can claim dependents. It pays to learn about the various tax deductions and credits that single parents can claim on their annual tax returns. Learn how to assess your eligibility for making these claims.

Related Costs

A single taxpayer with a child can claim him or her as a dependent and is able to get many tax credits related to children. It's also possible to deduct many of the costs related to providing for your child, for instance, those costs related to childcare and education. The first thing to do is to find out about the various tax benefits. Next, take some time to glean understanding on what basis a person is deemed eligible for claiming a child as a dependent according to tax law. This may just help a single mother or father to get more money back on their next tax return.

Chief tax officer with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. Mark Steber explains, "For parents who are divorced or separated, it's important to remember that only one parent is allowed to claim a child on a tax return as a dependent. Usually it is the 'custodial parent'—the parent the child lived with for the greater number of nights during the year, though the custodial parent can allow the non-custodial parent to claim the child if certain conditions are met.  However, if the child lived with each parent for an equal number of nights during the year, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income becomes the custodial parent."

Higher Deduction

The tax rate for the designated "Head of Household" is often lower than for those who are married but file separately, as well as for those who file as "single." The standard deduction will be higher if you are able to designate yourself as Head of Household. If you are an unmarried taxpayer with dependent children, you can file as Head of Household, as long as you can meet the following conditions:

*You are single or "considered unmarried" on December 31

*You contribute more than half the costs of keeping house for the tax year

*You had someone who qualifies as a dependent living in your home with you for more than 6 months of the year

Considered Unmarried

The IRS bases marital status according to your status on the last day of the tax year. That means that if you are separated on in the process of obtaining a divorce, you might still qualify as Head of Household, as long as your divorce is not final by midnight on December 31. If you want to be "considered unmarried" you and your spouse would have to have lived in separate homes for the final six months of the year and you also can't file a joint tax return for that year.

The "Custodial" parent can make claims to a variety of credits, for instance:

*Earned Income Tax Credit

*Child and Dependent Care Credit

*Education Credit

The custodial parent can also deduct sums they paid out for the child's medical expenses as long as the child qualifies as a dependent. The non-custodial parent who claims the child can claim the Child Tax and Additional Child Tax Credit. He may also deduct sums paid out for the child's medical expenses.

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