While filing your tax return electronically, you may get a message saying a different return has already claimed your dependent. Not only will this cause your tax return to be rejected, but it may also potentially be a larger indicator of fraud.
How to Resolve Someone Else Claiming Your Dependent
Unfortunately due to federal privacy laws, the IRS cannot disclose who is claiming your dependent. Instead, you'll need to take the following actions.
Ensure the Information You Entered is Correct
Typos can happen. Go back through your return and double-check that your dependent's information (i.e. Social Security number) has been entered correctly.
Contact Anyone Who May Have Claimed Your Dependent
Do you have an ex-partner who may have claimed your dependent, either by mistake or intentionally? Parents who’ve separated will sometimes trade years where they claim their children. If this is the case, then contact them and try to resolve the situation before getting the IRS involved.
Prove Your Claim to the IRS
If no one you know has claimed your dependent and you believe this may be a case of identity theft, then here's what you can do.
- Mail a paper copy of your tax return with the dependent claimed. If there is a refund, it will be delayed while the IRS investigates your case. However, at a minimum, your tax return will still be on file.
- The IRS will send you a CP75A Notice. Whoever also claimed your dependent will receive the same notice. Both parties will be given the opportunity to adjust their returns by removing the dependent.
- Prove your relationship. If neither party makes an adjustment, then the IRS will audit both returns and ask for proof of your relationship to the dependent. From there, the IRS will make a determination about which filer can ultimately claim the dependent.
For more information about stolen identities, please refer to the IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.