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How a parent can claim a kidnapped child as a tax dependent

Today is one of those days that really makes you think twice, or more, about commemorations and the state of today's world.

May 25 is National Missing Children's Day.

Etan Patz missing poster NYC Police 1979It was established in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. The date was selected because May 25, 1979, was the day that 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared.

Thirty-three years later this week, the New York City police department announced an arrest in this highly-publicized child abduction case.

Sadly, Etan's situation is not an aberration. Thousands of kids go missing every day.

Unless you are a parent of a missing son or daughter, there is no way to understand the emotional trauma that these families endure.

Tax issues of kidnapped children: And while taxes are just the tiniest of specks on such distraught parents' radars, the Internal Revenue Service does have a mechanism that addresses kidnapped kids at tax-filing time.

The IRS says parents may claim a kidnapped child as a dependent if two conditions are met.

First, the child must be presumed by law enforcement to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a family member.

Secondly, during the taxable year in which the kidnapping occurred, the child must have lived at the taxpaying parent's same principal place of residence for more than one-half of year before the date of the kidnapping.

When both of those requirements are met, the parent of the kidnapped youngster generally can claim the child as a dependent and get the associated exemption, as well as the child tax credit if that tax break's rules are met.

This tax treatment of a kidnapped child stops at the first tax year beginning after the calendar year in which either it is determined that the child is deceased or the child would have turned 18, whichever occurs first.

This tax circumstance doesn't apply to very many parents, thank goodness.

But for those mothers and fathers struggling to cope with a child who has been abducted, it at least offers a bit of tax relief.

Additional tax, missing child data: More information on the tax treatment of a kidnapped child can be found in IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a variety of resources for parents.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains an online database of missing and kidnapped persons, including kids, as well as one of suspected parental kidnappings.

The FBI also has missing kid smartphone apps that give parents a way to electronically store pictures and vital information about their children in case they go missing.

And Dr. Betty J. Kuffel, a physician and author, has tips on what parents can do to help keep children safe in today's high-tech world.

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