Being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs around. Thankfully, there are a number of single parent tax credits, tax deductions, and tax exemptions available for single moms and dads. If you know where to look and what to apply for, there are many ways to get credit for being the responsible parent you are.
Claim Head of Household
If you have children, you’re a single mom or dad, and pay half or more of the household expenses, you can file as the head of household. This tax designation means you’ll be taxed at a lower rate than other taxpayers who are either single without children or married. It adds up to a significant savings for you and your children and dependents.
To be considered unmarried, you must meet one of the following qualifications:
- Have never been married
- Are divorced or legally separated
- Have lived away from your spouse for more than six months of the last year
- Are married to a non-resident alien and have a qualifying child who lived with you for more than half the tax year
Keep in mind that the IRS typically uses the marital status you have on the last day of the tax year to determine your marital status for the entire tax year.
This exemption is subtracted from your adjusted gross income for each of your children. If any of the following situations apply, you can qualify for the dependent exemption:
- Your child lived with you for more than six months of the year
- Your child is 19 years old or younger OR up to 24 years old if they’re full-time college students
- The child is permanently disabled at any point during the year
- The child is your own child, stepchild, or a legally adopted child
Keep in mind that you cannot claim this exemption if your child provided more than half of their own living expenses during the year.
Child Tax Credit
You may be able to claim the child tax credit, worth $1000 per qualifying child, if all of the following apply:
- You’re filing as the head of household
- You’re unmarried
- You made less than $75,000 during the tax year
However, be aware that the Child Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit — it can reduce your tax burden to zero, but no further. To get a refund on the difference, you must also claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.
Additional Child Tax Credit
This credit allows you to get a refund for any leftover child tax credit. For example, if your total tax liability before claiming the Child Tax Credit is $500, claiming the CTC would reduce the amount you owe to zero. If you had one child, you could then claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, which would qualify you for a refund for the balance of the $1000 Child Tax Credit — in this case, $500.
Dependent Care Credit
If you paid for childcare to allow you to work outside the home, you may be able to claim the dependent care credit. This credit lets you claim up to $3000 for one child or $6000 for two or more children up to the age of 12. However, you only qualify if childcare allows you to work outside the home.
There are a lot of ways the IRS seeks to help out single parents. By claiming these single parent tax credits and deductions, you’ll be able to take home more of your income and use it to help raise your children. If you don’t have time to think about these options or to correctly fill out your taxes and ensure you claim all necessary deductions, consider hiring a tax preparation professional. It can be well worth the cost to be able to keep more of your earnings for your family.
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