Members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public...

Tax questions

March 26, 1997

Members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants are answering readers' tax questions through April 15.

Q: I am legally separated and plan to file as head of household, claiming the earned income tax credit. Our separation agreement allows my ex-spouse to claim one of our two children as a dependent even though the child lives with me. Even though I cannot list the child as a dependent, can I still take the earned income credit for more than one child since our children live with me and I have primary physical custody?

A: Yes, you may be able to take the credit even if your child is not your dependent. If your child is not your dependent because you have relinquished that exemption to your ex-spouse in the separation agreement, he or she must meet the remaining two criteria for the credit to apply: he or she lives with you for more than one-half of the tax year, and was under age 19 (or under age 24 and a full-time student) or was disabled and could not care for himself or herself in 1996. Reminder, you must have Social Security numbers for all children for whom you are claiming a credit.

The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary.

To ask a tax question, call Sundial at 410-783-1800. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County and 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a Touch-Tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6225 after you hear the greeting.

Readers also can e-mail questions through The Sun's Web site -- www.sunspot.net.

Selected questions will be answered in the Business section. No questions will be answered by phone.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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