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To claim head of household you need a qualifying child(s). Because your daughter lived with you with the children and she had income she is also entitled to claim the children. If children are qualifying dependent for more than one person, the IRS apply tie breaker rule to determine who can claim them. According to tie breaker rule, if more than one people qualify to claim the child but only one of them is the child's parent, only the parent can claim the child.
You cannot win the tie breaker rule if she is the parent. If she earned more than $4050 she is not your qualifying relative. Legally, she is not required to provide you with social security numbers of her dependents even if she does not claim them and the IRS cannot force her. The IRS can disallow her claiming the children but cannot force her to give you information you need to file your return as head of household.
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Yes, the IRS deals with similar issues all the time and it always comes down to the rules. You definitely cannot claim her if she already filed her own return. She is an adult and you cannot claim her without her permission. Regarding the children, unless you can somehow prove that she did not support them the IRS will be on her side and you will need to choose other filing option.
Taxes are not always fair and yes, I see many similar cases when certain individual are getting huge tax breaks because they know how to play it. And unfortunately I cannot do anything about and the IRS will not investigate.
Unfortunately the IRS will not get involved in personal or family issues. For the IRS to look into your case you will need to file a return first and the IRS will not help you with that. Even if you won the case the IRS will still not give you social numbers of the children. You can try to file a paper return without the social security numbers but at some point the IRS will be asking for it.