Maribel Valencia, 22, and her husband, Luis, became parents in 2015. And again in 2016. Maribel Valencia delivered twin babies at San Diego Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center over the weekend but the twins have different birthdays. Jaelyn, a girl, was delivered at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2015, while her brother, Luis, was delivered at 12:02 a.m. on January 1, 2016.
The babies were scheduled to be delivered by Cesarean section a week later, on January 6, 2016, but the twins apparently had something else in mind, making a surprise appearance a bit earlier. Fortunately, the babies are healthy: both 18.5 inches long. Jaelyn weighed four pounds, 15 ounces, while Luis weighed five pounds, nine ounces.
The pair has an older sister. But what about their Uncle… Sam? When it comes to tax time, the fact that little Jaclyn and Luis were born minutes apart doesn’t matter. The fact that they are born in different years does matter.
By law, you are allowed one exemption for each person you can claim as a dependent. A dependent can be either “qualifying child” or a “qualifying relative.” To be considered a “qualifying child,” the child must meet the following criteria:
- The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them;
- The child must be under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), or any age if permanently and totally disabled;
- The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year;
- The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year; and
- The child must not be filing a joint return for the year (unless that return is filed only to get a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid).
Of course, this being tax, there are exceptions and special rules that apply. One of the special rules is that a child who is born (or has died) during the calendar year is still considered to be a qualifying child if he or she meets all of the other criteria.
That means a baby born on December 31, 2015, would be considered a qualifying child for 2015. A baby born on January 1, 2016, would not be considered a qualifying child for 2015: that child would be a qualifying child for 2016.
In other words, assuming all of the other criteria are met, baby Jaelyn would be considered a dependent for 2015 – and little Luis would not. That’s a tough break for the Valencia’s, who, since they both work (according to the hospital, Maribel works as a cashier and Luis is a diesel mechanic for the United State Navy), could likely benefit from the extra exemption in 2015: the amount you can deduct in 2015 is $4,000.
by Kelly Phillips Erb Forbes Staff