Everything Parents Need to Know About Taxes

Don't put off filing taxes. Try these suggestions for getting the most out of deductions that parents can take.
LearnVest

You probably have a to-do list the length of the Constitution.

And, speaking of Uncle Sam, one of the things that probably keeps getting bumped down the list is your taxes.

We're here to help. When it comes to your taxes, LearnVest has you covered with

  • a five-day Ace Your Taxes Boot Camp (it's free and you get a free tax filing package from H&R Block for subscribing!)
  • a Tax Center chock-full of information
  • a story on the 10 tax must-knows (see Resources, below)

We'll share some of the most crucial tax information relevant to parents, including what you need to know to get all the credits and deductions you deserve in your exalted position of Mom. Then you can get your taxes done and turn your attention back to the fun things, like planning family game night.

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Which Status to Take

If your child is living with you and you are taking care of him financially, you'll never want to file as single (which has the fewest tax benefits), even if you're a single parent. You should file as "head of household" or as a qualifying widow, two statuses that recognize the financial and emotional support you're giving your child. If you're married, you should file as married filing jointly or married filing separately. Find out which filing status is for you by checking out our flow chart (see Resources, below).

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Which Exemptions You Get

Each exemption you qualify for means a lower tax bill. If you have any children under 19 (including stepchildren and legally adopted children) living with you, you most likely can take an exemption for each of them, along with your spouse and yourself. If your child was permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, she should be claimed as your dependent, regardless of her age.

Of course, the IRS wants to know that your kids are actually dependent on you. So you cannot claim your child as a dependent if:

  • Your child is over 19 and not a full-time student
  • Your child is age 24 or older at the end of the tax year
  • Your child provided more than half of her own support
  • Your child didn't live with you for half the year (except in cases of illness, education, business, vacation, or military services, or the child was born or died during the year)
  • You're separated or divorced, and your child spends more time at your ex-spouse's home. Learn more about this at the IRS Web site (http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq/0,,id=199708,00.html)

Find out what other tax exemptions you qualify for, see below.

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