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Can a Father Claim a Child as a Dependent, Even if She Lives with Her Grandmother?

Can a Father Claim a Child as a Dependent, Even if She Lives with Her Grandmother?
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Question: I have a client who is a widower. His wife died recently, and the Husband moved out-of-state. Daughter (who doesn't want to move away and start a new school) moves in with grandma to finish high school. Father sends grandma support money each month to cover all of daughter's support. Can Dad take the deduction for the child, or is she a qualifying child of the grandma (who wouldn't benefit from the exemption)?

Answer: Father can claim the daughter under the temporary absence rules. I assume the daughter is a minor but even that doesn't have to be true, even if the daughter lives with grandma for years, the daughter may still qualify as a dependent of the father because of the relaxed rules for "temporary absences."

College students go away to school for years, and often never move back home, but that doesn't prevent the parent from claiming the child. Even a seemingly "permanent" absence can still count as "temporary" when the child is in school, hospitalized, or institutionalized.

Here's a relevant case: Hein vs Commissioner (1957) . Sister was institutionalized (permanently) the brother paid for her support, the brother claimed head of household and dependency exemption. Even though she had been in an institution continuously for seven years, and the courts were aware that she would be there for the rest of her life, the exemption and HOH was still allowed. In the Hein case, the court made a relevant distinction regarding the sister, that if she were "ever to move out of the institution, she would live with the brother" who claimed her as a dependent. I still think this case is on point.

If the daughter could no longer live with the grandmother, then she would live with the father, who is supporting her.

Can a Father Claim a Child as a Dependent, Even if She Lives with Her Grandmother?

By: Christy Pinheiro EA ABA
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