Can both parents claim the single person child carer tax credit?

Last updated: 08-19-2020

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Can both parents claim the single person child carer tax credit?

I am wondering if unmarried fathers are entitled to tax credits for their dependent children? I don’t live with the mother and assume she is already claiming dependent child tax credits for them. If I am how can I go about claiming the credits?

Also I am contributing to my fathers nursing home costs along with my siblings, can I similarly claim a tax credit for a dependent person?

There is a credit available to single parents – called, logically, the Single Person Child Carer Credit. It has replaced a previous One-Parent Family Tax Credit since 2014 and is designed precisely to help people looking after dependent children on their own.

There is nothing to stop this being claimed by the father or the mother. But the key thing is that it an be claimed only by one or the other. This is the major difference with the old one parent family credit which could be claimed by both as long as the child or children lived with each of them for part of the year.

As you say, it is very likely that your children’s mother will also be claiming the single person child carer credit, so how do you, and more importantly, the Revenue Commissioners figure out who gets it?

It comes down to where they live. If the children live with the mother for more than six months of the year, she will be considered the primary carer and will qualify for the credit to your exclusion.

If you are the primary carer - on the basis of where the children live – then you qualify to her exclusion.

In your case, I assume the children’s mother is the primary carer so you cannot claim.

There is provision in the rules governing the credit for the primary carer to direct that the payment should not go to them but to the secondary carer – the other parent. Given the finances of single parenthood, this is unlikely to happen often but it is possible.

However, even then, the child must live with this secondary carer for a minimum of 100 days over the year. If not, they don’t qualify even if the other parent is happy to surrender their own right to the credit. Ironically,more than one secondary claimant can claim the credit if it is surrendered by the primary claimant in a given family as long a child, or one of a number of children, lives with each of the secondary claimants for at least 100 days.

Where both parents have equal custody granted by court order, Revenue will consider whoever is in receipt of child benefit to be the primary carer, again generally the mother.

The credit can be claimed for any child under the age of 18, or anyone over that age provided they are in full-time second or third level education

It amounts to €1,650 in the current tax year. A claimant is also entitled to a€4,000 higher threshold in the standard rate income tax band, bringing it to €39,300.

On nursing home fees, relief is quite generous relative to most other Irish tax reliefs. And, in this case, yes, you can claim.

It’s not really a dependent person credit. Quite simply, whoever is paying for the nursing home care can claim relief on the money they are paying. And that relief is claimable at your highest income tax rate.

It is generally claimed with medical expenses at the end of the tax year. If, as in this case, there are a number of people contributing to the cost, each can claim in respect of the money they are contributing.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be entered into.


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