How to Claim a Deceased Child on Taxes

By Jessica Felix
A child, who, the same tax year, a dependent
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It is a tragedy to need to claim a deceased child on your tax return. The death of a child is a hardship to parents, relatives and friends. It is, however, a comfort to know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has made provisions in case of such a tragic time. As you gather up your forms, receipts and income for the year, you can have some peace of mind knowing that it is easy to claim a deceased child on taxes.

Take the qualifying child test. The deceased child will need to have been under the age of 18 at the end of the current tax year, have lived a majority of the time at the residence of the taxpayer and have had a familial relationship with the taxpayer. This includes an adopted, foster or natural child or step child, a sibling or step sibling, or a descendant such as a grandchild.

Meeting the above criteria for a qualifying child automatically determines whether you can claim a deceased child on taxes. Any child that qualifies as a dependent is a child that may be claimed whether alive or deceased.

In order to claim a child whose birth and death occurred in the same tax year the taxpayer must have a birth certificate that proves live birth. Even if the child was only alive for a moment, the parents may claim the child for the entire tax year. A stillborn child may not be claimed.

If a child was born and died in the same year and you do not have a Social Security number for that child, you may attach copies of the birth and death certificates to the return and write "died" in the area where the social security number normally goes in the Exemptions section of IRS Form 1040.

Determine how many dependents are now being claimed and move ahead to figuring the adjusted gross income and other possible deductions.

Retain copies of the birth and death certificates with a copy of the tax return and other important tax documents. This does not need to be sent to the IRS unless requested at a later date.

About the Author

Jessica Felix graduated from Western Washington University with a major in Education. Felix has been writing for six years and teaches child development classes to professionals and parents. She is also a certified parenting educator offering coaching and classes to families with young children.