Have a Tax Question? Ask a Tax Expert
Thank you for your question. First off, relax --- even if you claimed them and weren't supposed to I can tell you don't understand tax law, etc and the IRS would simply make you pay the additional tax.
Technically, if you are the legal guardian of the children you get the exemption -- you would have to file a form with the IRS to allow him to claim the children. Him paying child support doesn't matter for the IRS
If your divorce decree says he gets to claim them, then you may have an issue where you will need to amend your taxes. The IRS doesn't enforce divorce agreements -- but your local court may not be too pleased if you ignored the order.
Child support is NOT taxable income to you, so if you claimed it as such you should amend your returns to take that income off.
So, no -- you won't get in trouble from the IRS but you may need to go ahead and ensure your taxes match what you agreed to in the divorce to avoid issue with the divorce courts.
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You're not going to have to pay him anything other than his tax savings for claiming the boys. You will not have to pay back the child support, and if you claimed the child support as income on your taxes then you will get a refund for the tax you paid on that and it will more than offset the deduction for the children.
Technically, he can't take the deduction unless you give him a form each year ---so if you show the IRS that you have custody of the children then they won't do anything. However, your ex could contact his attorney and take you back to divorce court for not following that agreement.
Also, divorce agreements will only follow children until they are 18 under most circumstances.
You should contact your local Legal Aid clinic and see if they will look over your divorce papers and advise you the correct way to go. It should not be a huge issue.
Please let me know if you need anything additional. If not, please rate positive.