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ElectroFile Income Tax Service Newsletters
Income Tax Service
5200 W Market St
Greensboro, NC 27409
March 12, 2016
Never, Ever Let Your Kids File A Tax Return (For Themselves)
I know, you're proud that they got a job and earned some money during the year.
And they got a W2 for the year.
Make sure they know not to go online and file a return for themselves! All
this advertising on TV and elsewhere saying they can do it for free is very
tempting. They can, but it will hurt you every time!
I was reminded of this just yesterday. It happens a few times a year to some
of our customers.
A longtime client's college age son went online and filed his own tax return
and he claimed himself as a dependent. No problem for him, the IRS accepted the
return and he was happy.
Then we completed the parent's return properly including the son as a dependent
and claiming the son's educational expenses, etc., it was rejected by the IRS
because the dependent's SSN had been filed as the primary taxpayer on another
(his own) tax return, and claimed as a dependent (even though he wasn't
eligible to do so).
The parent's return cames to a screeching halt!
They are faced with some choices:
See? This situation royally messes up the parent's tax situation. And, the
tax return for the son
anymore at all!
Refile their return and not claim the dependen son, a college student under age
24 that they support. That will reduce their refund by over $2,000. I don't
like that choice, do you?
We now have to get access to a copy of the son's tax return so that it can be
amended to remove the dependency claim that was made in error. The son may or
may not owe some money back depending on his income. This will take a minimum
of 45 days to clear through the IRS and reopen the door for the parent's return
to be filed. There isn't enough time left before the April 18th deadline to do
File the parent's return electronically without claiming the son as a dependent
or claiming the education credits with the intent to later amend it after the
son's amended return clears through the IRS. Then we will have to amend the
parent's return to include the dependent and education credit claims, make a
claim for the corrected refund amount and wait approximately 90 to 120 days to
receive it. I've seen this take up to 6 to 8 months to process through the IRS and the refund
be issued. Even so, it is the best method to handle this situation.
Amend the son's return immediately plus file a paper return for the parent's
before April 18th. Then we can expect a notice from the IRS disallowing the
dependency claim, and we will have to reply to the a letter explaining the
situation and proving the son's amended return has been amended. The the
parent will have to wait and wait and wait for the correct refund to be made.
That is one of the reasons that ElectroFile Income Tax Service has always
offered to file a dependent's first tax return for free and provides a discount
for subsequent returns for dependent children. The parents should always
control the filing of their dependent children's tax returns to protect their
In summary, DO NOT allow a dependent child to file his own tax return.
Dependent children's, including fulltime students up to the age of 24 and in some
instances age 26, tax returns should be coordinated with the parent's tax
return filing by a competent and trained tax preparer. Otherwise, there is
almost always a real fiasco!