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Earlier this year, I submitted my 2019 tax return, leaving "Someone can claim you as a dependent" unchecked, in order to claim the 2020 stimulus check.

It turns out that my parent normally claims me as a dependent on their tax return. Now, because of me receiving a $1200 stimulus check, they will be overpaying on their taxes by more than $3000 because they can't claim me as a dependent!

With me as a dependent, the standard deduction they could take this year is $18300 (Head of Household), but otherwise, the standard deduction drops to only $12000 (Single).

Is there any way for me to resubmit my 2019 tax return with "Someone can claim you as a dependent" checked and send back the 2020 stimulus check so that my parent can claim me as a dependent?

About my dependent status: Apparently, since I live with my parent the whole year (and thus, the parent pays for my housing), they can claim me as a dependent on their tax returns, which allows them to file as Head of Household. Being over 21, I figured I cannot be claimed as a dependent, as I'm now an adult. Me and my parent file our taxes separately and never actually discussed this.

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    Keep in mind that, in order for your parent to claim the Head of Household filing status, you must have lived with him/her for the entire year (except when away at school). It's a higher threshold than simple "dependent". My daughter is a dependent but lived with her boyfriend last year so I could not claim Head of Household. Yes, it hurt a lot. – Istanari Jul 14 '20 at 19:01
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    So can someone claim you as a dependent or not? (Note that this question has nothing to do with whether someone actually does claim you as a dependent, but whether someone can.) If someone can claim you as a dependent (even if nobody actually does), then you lied when you filed to check that box on your tax return. On the other hand, if nobody can claim you as a dependent, then your parents will be lying if they claim you as a dependent on their tax return. – user102008 Jul 14 '20 at 19:13
  • @user102008 I updated the question to address your point. I was not aware that I can still be claimed as a dependent. – Duke Nukem Jul 14 '20 at 19:38
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    Please note that living with your parent for the entire year is not the only criteria for whether they can claim you as their dependent. Persons over the age of 18 must generally be either a full-time student, disabled, or earn less than ~$4000 to qualify as a dependent. (This is based on the calculator on irs.gov) – GalacticCowboy Jul 15 '20 at 0:22
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    @DukeNukem please work with your parent to check whether or not you actually can be claimed as a dependent before filing amending your taxes. irs.gov/help/ita/whom-may-i-claim-as-a-dependent can help you figure that out. It may be the case that your parent is the one who made/will make a mistake in their filing. – asgallant Jul 15 '20 at 20:40
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First of all, you have already submitted your tax return, so the deadline tomorrow does not apply to you. That having been said, you’ll want to get this straightened out ASAP.

If your parent is going to claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return, then you will need to file an amended return. This is a Form 1040X. On this return, you will calculate all the changes between what you originally claimed, and what you are now claiming. This may impact the amount of your tax, so you may have to send in some extra tax money with this, or return some of any tax refund you received. (I’m not talking about the stimulus payment yet.) There may be a small penalty and interest charge associated with this if you do owe some money and do not get this done by tomorrow.

As for your stimulus payment, there is a way to return this payment, but it is not part of your tax return. The IRS lists the procedure on this page. If you’ve already cashed the check or received it via direct deposit, you can mail a check to one of the addresses listed along with a note explaining why you are returning it. Explaining that you incorrectly checked the wrong box on your return and that you have corrected this on an amended return should be sufficient.

I do want to point out at this point that while you and I agree that this money was obtained by your own error and that it should be returned, there is currently no penalty for not returning a stimulus payment sent by mistake. This may change in the future, so if you choose to wait, don’t spend it for quite a while. You would want to have the cash sitting there ready to send back right away if and when they come asking for it.

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  • The deadline still applies if they'd have to pay more in taxes, wouldn't it? It's not a filing deadline, it's a payment deadline, isn't it? – Kat Jul 14 '20 at 23:23
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    @Kat It is both a filing deadline and a payment deadline, but the penalty is for not paying on time. Presumably, the OP either submitted a payment when he filed the first time, or received a refund. We don't know how much additional tax burden the amended return will result in, but if he takes care of this ASAP, the penalty will hopefully be minimal. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jul 14 '20 at 23:44
  • Thanks for your help :) I'm gonna jump on this... – Duke Nukem Jul 15 '20 at 0:46
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If you are actually a dependent, then you can file an amended return using a form 1040x.

Make sure you read up on what actually makes you a dependent vs not before doing this to avoid committing tax fraud.

Talking about what your parents will get if you file an amended return vs not is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the central issue of whether or not you're actually a dependent and if you are, what to do about it.

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  • Do you know how he would return the stimulus payment, or even if it needs to be returned at all? – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Jul 14 '20 at 18:09
  • So as I gathered from the discussion, I should not have applied for the stimulus check in the first place, since I lived with my parent the entire year. @Karen, do you know how long the process of submitting Form 1040X would take, and, as Ben Miller asked, how I would go about refunding the stimulus check? It doesn't help that taxes are due tomorrow... – Duke Nukem Jul 14 '20 at 19:40
  • @DukeNukem what was your income in 2019? Are you a full-time student? – Robert Columbia Jul 15 '20 at 1:29
  • @DukeNukem Since you already filed, the July 15 deadline is irrelevant to you. I don’t know how long it’ll take for you to file a 1040X, because I don’t know how good you are at reading instructions or doing tax paperwork. We’re not going to do it for you (hire a CPA for that), but this stack certainly can help you if you’re stuck. Even if you want to keep your income private, that’s not the part of the form we’d be looking at. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 15 '20 at 15:38

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