Parents holding a newborn
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Can I Claim My Newborn on My Taxes? Burning Question for New Parents

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Dec. 27 2021, Published 2:04 p.m. ET

Overall, 2021 was a good year to bring a new baby into the world. As the year draws to a close, you might wonder if you can claim your newborn on your taxes in 2022.

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The answer is yes. You can claim your newborn as a dependent on your 2021 tax return if the child was born before 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. If your baby is born even a minute after you ring in the new year, you’ll have to wait until 2023 to claim the baby on your 2022 taxes.

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A qualifying child must live with you more than half the year.

The child must also live in your care for more than half of the year for you to claim them as a dependent. So, if you decide to give the child up for adoption or place it in foster care after birth, you won’t be able to claim the baby on your returns. That’s also the case if the child immediately goes to live with their other parent or a grandparent.

If your baby is born on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes midnight, the IRS waives the residency rule. However, the rule will apply the following year.

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Can you claim a child that died?

Another exception to the IRS residency rule is if the unfortunate happens and your child dies during the year. According to the IRS, a child who was born or died during the year is treated as having lived with you more than half the year if your home was the child's home more than half the time they were alive during the year. For example, if the child died four months after being born and lived with you for at least two months, you can still claim them on your taxes.

The IRS states that the same is true if the child lived with you more than half the year except for any required hospital stays following birth.

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Even if a child dies soon after it's born, if the child was born alive, you might be able to claim them as a dependent. Stillborn babies can’t be claimed as dependents.

What other factors qualify a child as a dependent?

Other factors determine whether your child qualifies as a dependent. The child must also be:

  • Your child (son or daughter) or sibling (brother or sister)

  • Under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year or a full-time student under the age of 24

  • Financially dependent on you for more than half of their expenses

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Who can claim a child after a divorce or separation?

If you're married and raising the baby with your spouse, you can both claim the child when you file your joint tax return. However, if the parents are divorced or separated and file taxes separately, both parents can’t claim the child as a dependent. The parent who lives with the child the most can claim the child on their taxes.

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In cases involving divorced parents who share custody 50/50, the specifics of who can claim the child are often included in your divorce agreement. For example, it’s common for divorced parents sharing custody to switch every year on who can claim the child as a dependent.

If you make a mistake and both parents claim the child, you’ll get a letter from the IRS, and one of you will most likely have to file an amended return.

For a New Year’s Eve baby with divorced or separated parents, since there isn’t enough time in the year to determine who the child lives with the most, the ability to claim the child as a dependent goes to the parent who earns the highest adjusted gross income.

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