Kidnapping in the Tax Code

August 02, 2011

Kidnapping is illegal and rightly viewed as an immoral, reprehensible act.  Yet in a perverse way, under certain conditions, the kidnapping of a child under the age of 18 can result in more disposable income for their family.  This assumes that the family is still making the same amount of money, spending less on goods and services for the missing family member, and legally claiming the tax credit (which is dependent upon how many qualifying children are, in some sense, under the taxpayer's care).

Qualifying taxpayers may choose to take such tax credits as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit to offset the costs of raising children.   Qualifying children include natural children, stepchildren, adopted children, and legally placed foster children.  The IRS definition of 'qualifying child' varies depending on the credit being claimed.  Generally, the child must live in the home of the filer for half the year unless:

1.       The child is a full-time student

2.       The child is kidnapped by someone other than a family member

This is likely a stipulation of the Internal Revenue Code that is known to few people outside the network of families who have had to go through such an ordeal.  In no way should this be perceived as advice in tax avoidance.  Any ethical reader will assume as much, but that fact cannot be stressed enough.  The existence of a provision for such a case is understandable.  It is especially interesting, however, when one ponders to what extent such logic could be advanced.

Follow David Logan on twitter @Loganomix

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