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Which divorced parent can claim the child tax credit?

By Karin Price Mueller | for

Q. My daughter is divorced. Her ex-husband declares the 11-year-old on his taxes and he pays child support. Does he get the child tax credit? My daughter does not work and only has income of $25,000 a year.

— Trying to help

A. It’s a great question and it will depend on the specifics of their situation.

The child tax credit is for individuals who claim a child as a dependent if the child meets all of the requirements.

The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of them, such as a grandchild, niece, or nephew, said Bernie Kiely, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Kiely Capital Management in Morristown.

The child must be under age 18 at the end of 2021, not providing more than half of their own support for 2021 and must have lived with you for more than half of 2021, Keily said.

Additionally, the child must not file a joint return for the year, must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien and have a Social Security number.

Then, the child must be claimed as a dependent on your return, Kiely said.

The maximum amount you claim for the credit is $3,000 or $3,600 in the case of a child who is younger than 6, he said

The credit is phased out for income above certain levels.

For 2021, these threshold limits are $150,000 for joint returns or surviving spouses, $112,000 for heads of households and $75,000 for singles, he said.

And, the credit is fully refundable which means you get the credit even if it exceeds your income tax, Kiely said.

“In your situation, your daughter’s ex-husband is entitled to the child tax credit because he meets all the requirements,” he said. “Your daughter is not entitled because she does not meet the requirements. Specifically, she does not claim the child as a dependent on her tax return.”

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Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for’s weekly e-newsletter.


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