Can My Boyfriend Claim My Child by a Different Father on His Tax Return for the Earned Income Credit?

A boyfriend cannot claim your child for EIC.

No matter how good a “Daddy” is, the IRS has very strict rules about who can claim the EIC tax credit.



Short answer: No.  Do not let your boyfriend claim your child that is not his for the Earned Income Tax Credit.


Long answer: Noooooooooooooo! Sorry about the bad joke. But really, no he can’t and here’s why:


First, and most importantly, it’s against the law. Seriously – claiming a child that you don’t have a right to claim on your tax return is income tax fraud and that’s a federal crime.


But how would he get caught? Good question. The most likely way he’d get caught is if someone else tried to claim your child on their tax return, like the child’s real father or a grandparent. Someone might have a problem with you or him and turn you in to the IRS. It’s one of the most common questions I see on the internet: “How do I turn someone in?” I’ve worked on a couple of cases where an older child has accidentally turned someone in by filing paperwork for school which somehow got into IRS records. You don’t want to take the risk.


But the most dangerous person as far as your boyfriend is concerned is you. Let’s say you decide to let your boyfriend claim your child and claim the EIC tax credit because it works out to be more money if he does it. You’re breaking the law too, but when push comes to shove you can break into tears and say he forced you etc., etc. It’s not against the law to not claim your child on your tax return, and proving that you “conspired” with him to commit tax fraud would be hard to do. So let’s say that the boyfriend dumps you and goes out and buys a nice engagement ring for his new girlfriend with that tax refund. I’m guessing that would make you hopping mad, right? Furious! You want to get even, don’t you? What better way to get even with that scumbag than to report him to the IRS. You see why he should be afraid? Very afraid!


So what could happen to my boyfriend if he did get caught? The maximum EIC for one child is $3050 ($5036 for two, and $5,666 for three.) First, he’d have to pay that back. Let’s say we’re just talking about one child, he’ll have to pay back $3050 right off the bat. Then he’d also have to refund the $1,000 child tax credit, so now we’re up to $4050. Now he’ll also have lost the head of household status which gave him a lower tax rate plus he’s lost the exemption so we’re looking at maybe $5,000 (or more if we’re talking about more children). Then the IRS will tack on fines, another 25% or $1250 for late payment fees, and most likely another 20% or $1,000 for under-reporter penalties so you’re looking at about $7250 in taxes owed. Ouch!


It’s also possible that he could be criminally prosecuted. Personally, I have never worked an EIC case that has gone on to the criminal division, but it does happen. What good is your boyfriend to you if he’s sitting in jail?


Don’t create problems for yourself by committing tax fraud. It seems like easy money and the temptation is great. You probably even know people who’ve done it and never had any problems. But if you want to feel safe and secure and get a good night’s sleep, file a correct and proper tax return.


You may also be interested in these posts:

My Ex Claimed My Kid: Now What Do I Do?

Eight Basic Rules to Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit


If you need an answer right away, here are some links that might help.


Answers to EIC Questions


How to find free tax preparers


How to find your local IRS office


105 thoughts on “Can My Boyfriend Claim My Child by a Different Father on His Tax Return for the Earned Income Credit?

  1. Dear Cierra,
    Your boyfriend sounds like a great guy. But you read the article. My answer doesn’t change just because your boyfriend sounds like a great guy. (Okay, I might be nasty if he sounded like a jerk. It’s hard to be nasty when you sound like such a nice couple.)

    Here’s what you can do.

    1. You have one child together – so that makes your boyfriend head of household.
    2. The child you have together qualifies BF to claim EIC for ONE child ONE CHILD ONLY! That same child also qualifies for the dependency exemption, and the child tax credit.
    3. Your boyfriend may claim you as a dependent.
    4. Your BF might be able to claim the other children as “qualifying relatives” – which is a type of dependent – but won’t qualify for EIC or the child tax credit.

    If he wants EIC and the child tax credit on your other kids, you two will have to get married, or he will have to legally adopt your children.

  2. Hello I have court ordered papers saying that I pay child support and that my ex wife has to give up all tax return rights to me for claiming my child we was divorced back in 2001 or 2002. She doesn’t work and collects an ssi check but her current husband claims my daughter every year. I’m just wondering if I’ll m getting screwed on this cause I’ve never been able to claim my own child. Thanks

  3. Hi Michael,
    The court order only allows you to claim the exemption, not head of household filing status or the earned income tax credit. Your exe’s husband, filing jointly with your ex, does have a legal right to claiming your child – for EIC, but not for the exemption and the child tax credit. This post might help explain it. Split Exemptions

  4. First off, let me thank you for doing all of this! THANK YOU!
    I have read the posts and am still a little confused about my situation. My daughter, born 6/2015 and has been with her mother in another state. As of now, I do not have custody or anything legal. I will do that next week. I do help her with the expenses and have proof. I work part time and am a full time grad student. She started dating Mr. X in Sept/Oct 2015 and I recently found out that he claimed her on his taxes. From what I know they do not live together but he stays there often. She does not work and has been on welfare and he works part time. I have been trying to work with her but she is still resentful. Hence the reason why I am going to court next week to start the process of partial custody and/or trying to get full custody. I was going to report this to the IRS but read that it may be a better idea to claim my daughter first. However, this was last year and not this coming cycle. What would be your professional opinion? Once again, thank you so very much.

  5. Hi Oscar,
    Since you don’t have custody, and you don’t have any legal document that allows you to claim your daughter, then you shouldn’t claim her on your taxes. The boyfriend should not be claiming your child. In your case, you are probably better off just reporting him – or waiting until you are able to claim your daughter yourself.

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