Dear Carolyn:

How can I obtain my ex’s tax returns? He claimed our son when my son lived with me. This happened after our child custody case. This was not the first time. We were not together for eight years, and I found out he had claimed me also on another return.


Carolyn Answers:

It is that time of year – time for taxes.  I am assuming you are the mother of the child, given the wording of your question.

The only way you can get your ex-spouse’s tax returns from the IRS is with Form 4506 signed by him, allowing you to have the tax returns or a transcript of the returns. If you have active litigation (currently pending in court), the court may order him to sign upon your official request via interrogatories, provided you have a good reason. To review Form 4506, see

If your child lives with you, you should lawfully get the dependency exemption and related benefits for your son – unless you have signed an IRS Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. Form 8332 transfers the child’s exemption to the non-custodial parent. You probably do not want to sign IRS Form 8332 because you may be eligible for Earned Income Credit and get a refund – even if you did not pay income taxes. To review Form 8332, see

If you file a return claiming yourself and your dependent son, the IRS may take care of deleting you and your son as a dependent on the father’s return. The IRS may at first honor the “first to file” exemptions, but you will have a chance to explain the father’s errors to the IRS. You should win the exemptions under your fact pattern.


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”