Frequent Asked Tax Questions

What should I do if I find a mistake on my return that I've already filed?

It depends on the type of mistake you made:

  • Many mathematical errors are caught during the processing of the tax return and corrected by the IRS, so you may not need to correct these mistakes.
  • If you didn't claim the correct filing status or you need to change your income, deductions, or credits, you should file an amended or corrected return.

When filing an amended or corrected return:

  • Include copies of any forms and/or schedules that you're changing or didn't include with your original return. To avoid delays, file Form 1040X only after you've filed your original return. Generally, for a credit or refund, you must file Form 1040X within 3 years after the date you timely filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  • Allow the IRS up to 16 weeks to process the amended return.

To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?

Generally, to qualify for head of household, you must have a qualifying child or dependent. However, a custodial  parent may be able to claim head of household filing status with a qualifying child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child. 

Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?

To claim your child as your dependent, your child must meet either the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test:

  • To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and either younger than 19 years old or be a "student" younger than 24 years old as of the end of the calendar year.
  • There's no age limit if your child is "permanently and totally disabled" or meets the qualifying relative test.

In addition to meeting the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, your child must also meet all of the other tests for claiming a dependent:

  1. Dependent taxpayer test
  2. Citizen or resident test, and
  3. Joint return test

Can both parents claim a dependency exemption for a child on separate returns?

No, a dependency exemption for a child may only be claimed on one return in a tax year.

Divorced and ex-spouse is claiming exemption for our child. Do I still qualify as head of household?


You may still qualify for head of household filing status even though you aren't claiming an exemption for your child, if you meet all of the following requirements:

  1. You're unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
  2. You paid more than half of the cost of maintaining a household that is your home and the main home of your child for more than one-half of the year.
  3. Your child is either your qualifying child (whether you can claim the child as a dependent or not) or your qualifying relative whom you can claim as a dependent.

Can I claim a relative who did not have income during the year and provided all support?

You may be eligible to claim a dependency exemption for both your niece and her son on your return. In order to claim someone as your dependent, the person must meet certain tests as shown below.

The dependent must be:

  1. Either your qualifying child or qualifying relative
  2. A U.S. citizen, U.S. resident, U.S. national or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  3. Unmarried or if married, not filing a joint return or only filing a joint return to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid.

Additionally, you must meet the dependent taxpayer test. If you can be claimed as a dependent by another person, you can't claim anyone else as a dependent.