Noncustodial Father Couldn't Claim Dependent Exemptions

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By Erin McManus

Aug. 10 — Despite a record of dutiful child support payments and a divorce court order allowing him tax benefits, a father couldn't claim deductions and credits for children who didn't live with him ( Cappel v. Commissioner , T.C., No. 4920-15, T.C. Memo. 2016-150, 8/10/16 ).

U.S. Tax Court Judge Albert G. Lauber ruled Aug. 10 that Paul Anthony Cappel couldn't claim dependency exemption deductions, head-of-household filing status and child tax credits, because two children from his first marriage and another child from his second marriage didn't live with him during the tax year at issue.

No Signed Form

Although a state court order said Cappel could claim the dependency exemption for his first two children if he remained current with his child support obligations, he never obtained an executed Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, from his first wife. He also failed to obtain a Form 8332 from his second wife.

Lauber said Cappel couldn't claim the deductions, filing status and credits without the executed form if the children didn't reside with him.

Cappel “has acted honorably in paying child support for many years, but his ex-wife has apparently claimed two of their children as dependents in violation of a Florida court order. But while the result may seem harsh in these circumstances, the law is unfortunately clear. On the record before us, we have no alternative but to sustain” the Internal Revenue Service's determinations, Lauber said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erin McManus in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cheryl Saenz at

For More Information

Text of the decision is in TaxCore.

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