I live abroad and my child was born 5 years ago, but I did not get him a SSN until this year, now I haven't filed tax returns for the past 5 years, my question is can I claim him as a dependent for the all the years even though I got his SSN until this year?

Thanks for any pointers


Look at this answer which is closely related to your question. Run, do not walk, to a tax accountant's office and ask the accountant instead of relying on advice from an Internet forum. You have more problems than just whether or not you can list your child as a dependent on your delinquent returns.

  • Thanks for the answer, I understand my situation (which I'm running to fix:) I'm just trying to understand some ins and outs before my appointment with the accountant tomorrow :)
    – Jaime
    Jun 5 '12 at 23:05
  • 3
    @Jaime the SSN is used as identification, once issued it remains the same, so I don't think the fact that you issued it now would be a problem when filing the reports for prior years.
    – littleadv
    Jun 5 '12 at 23:30
  • @littleadv It is a problem. Do not attempt to file previous years! Jun 6 '12 at 21:39
  • nope. See my comment to your answer.
    – littleadv
    Jun 6 '12 at 21:42

You must have an SSN (for ATIN for certain adoptees, or ITIN for resident aliens) for your son to claim him as a dependent for any particular year. You have until the April 15 deadline obtain an SSN, unless you've filed an extension. (ie. the deadline for a 2011 return was April 15, 2012)

You cannot claim him for previous years.

See IRS Publication 17, Chapter 3.

  • but he already has obtained the SSN. He must have an SSN to file, he doesn't have to have an SSN during the year for which he's filing.
    – littleadv
    Jun 6 '12 at 21:42
  • Quote from pub 17 you referenced: "You must list the SSN of any dependent for whom you claim an exemption". SSN is a filing requirement, not a requirement to qualify for an exemption.
    – littleadv
    Jun 6 '12 at 21:50
  • Exactly my point, from my understanding a dependent is a dependent whether he has an SSN or not, you can only claim the deduction if he has an SSN, making it a filing requirement, but is not that he start being your dependent from the time you get an SSN... or am I crazy :) BTW My deadline is June 15 since I'm abroad (bona fide) so an automatic 2 month filing extension applies.
    – Jaime
    Jun 7 '12 at 17:18
  • @littleadv Say you obtain a SSN on April, 14 2012. Explain to me how that SSN is valid to claim a 2010 exemption, for which you had a deadline of April 15, 2011? Jun 7 '12 at 18:49
  • @Jaime The IRS established rules defining "dependent" starting in tax year 2005. (See: irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=133298,00.html) If your son falls under these, he is your dependent. I believe that the fact that your son did not have an SSN/ITIN/ATIN in prior years disqualifies you from getting an exemption for him. (ie. He is your dependent, but you cannot get an exemption) That said, you should consult a tax professional or attorney to get an authoritative "ruling" on the this. Jun 7 '12 at 18:57

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