Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tax Advice from the Prestigious Internet

With tax season upon us, many people come to me, as an economics major, with questions about tax policy and how it affects them.

Specifically: Can I still write off a child as a deduction if they've been kidnapped?

According to the IRS website, the answer is "yes," if two conditions are met:

  1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or a member of the child's family, and
  2. The child had, for the taxable year in which the kidnapping occurred, the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of the portion of such year before the date of kidnapping.

So, if your child has not been kidnapped by a family member (this excludes most kidnappings, by the way*), and spent more than half of the tax-year, pre-kidnapping, living with you, they are considered for tax purposes a dependent.

As an example, take a hypothetical kidnapping on March 1, 1932. If the missing child had spent 30 or more days of the year leading up to March 1 (1932 being a leap year) in his parents' principle abode, they could write him off for the entire 1932 tax year. Just as a hypothetical.

The IRS also says you can continue to count the missing child as a dependent until they are determined to be dead, or it reaches the year they would have reached 18.

*According the to FBI, in 2007 only 15% of kidnappings were by strangers. The rest were by "non-custodial parents." Let that be a lesson to you: You are much safer with strangers than you are with your family.


Anonymous said...

My question is, why would you tell anyone, and especially the IRS, that your child was kidnapped?
Think of all the peace and quiet around your home that would result.
Pay the taxes, it is a good deal.

Anonymous said...

The best tax advice I can give anyone is to seek the help of professionals if you're unsure of what you're doing. I use a Chicago tax Preparation service and the money I spend is well worth the peace of mind I have knowing they are done right.