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Usually what happens is that when the second tax return gets processed the IRS will catch the duplication and deny any refund to that return.
They also will send correspondence to the first filer to verifiy the claim for head of household and the right to claim the dependent.
The second filer can appeal the decision and ultimately the IRS will decide based upon the facts presented which of the two filers, if any can claim HOH and the dependent.
I am a bit confused. Can you clarify a few things for me?
You speak of your son, is he the one who also filed as HOH and got back $5,000?
How does his ex-wife fit into the picture?
Who are the two people who filed with tghe same dependent as HOH?
When you say that your son's is held up in child support system are you speaking of your son's tax refund?
You're right this is confusing. Are your son and his ex divorced? Which of them is the custodial parent? Does the divorce decree say who may claim the children?
Where do the children live when they are not with you?
Head of Household
You will find the rules for filing as head of household. Based upon what you have said it does not appear that your son can file using the Head of Household status unless he can claim you, his parent. Go to page 24 under the heading Qualifying Person.
You might also review Table 2-1 on page 23 to get an idea of how Head of Household is determined.
If I were in your shoes, I would contact a tax professional in your area, preferably and Enrolled Agent to seek their assistance in getting this straightened out. Your son may have a problem with the IRS for filing improperly. The taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the tax return filed.
Here is a link to help you find an EA in your area: