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Bankston v. Mattingly

NO. 2021-CA-1490-MR

Marion Circuit Court

Decided by Thompson, Chief Judge; Jones, and Karem, Judges

Opinion by Jones, Judge

Date Rendered: February 17, 2023

Issue: Whether minor child could be claimed on federal income tax returns on a rotating basis.

Father and mother shared equal parenting time. Father paid child support as he had a considerably higher income. Father and mother could not agree as to how to share the child as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. The circuit court made findings about the value of the exemption to both parents and then ordered that the parties rotate claiming the child.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals clarified the Adams-Smyrichinsky holding stating “the circuit court should presume that the IRS rules apply, and it should not displace those rules simply for the sake of fairness or achieving mathematical equality between the parties.” “In cases where the parties have roughly equal timesharing, the IRS rule dictates that the deduction belongs to the party with the higher adjusted gross income.” A circuit court may deviate from the IRS rules but to do so it must make a determination of benefit to the child not just the parent’s finances as a whole. Thus, the Court of Appeals remanded the matter back to the circuit court for further consideration. 

Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell