One of parenthood’s major perks is the gigantic tax break that’s delivered along your tiny bundle of joy. As that little joy nugget grows and takes up a larger chunk of your budget, you  look forward to that tax refund (a large percentage of which is allocated back to caring for said joy nugget). Eventually your child grows up, graduates, and gets a full time job… but still freeloads at home, so you naturally intend to continue claiming him/her as a dependent. In fact, you may even say to your now fully grown, less than optimally-functional adult child:  “Joy Nugget, I’m claiming you as a dependent on my taxes so don’t get any big ideas about claiming yourself.”

You might even mention this a grand total of 5 times.

And then one day you submit your tax returns, and about four hours later you get a notice from the IRS:  “Your tax returns have been rejected because Joy Nugget claimed himself”.


This means that your fully grown bundle of joy has a little extra pocket money but you, as the single parent who provided far more than half of his living expenses for the past year, you lose your Head of Household filing status AND the ability to claim your child as a dependent.

Oh, and almost half of your anticipated tax refund.

Now you’re presented with many options. You could contact the IRS and wade through miles of red tape to assure them that your adult kiddo claimed himself in error. (Nope). You could remind your child of the 5 times you told him you’d be claiming him and get lots of excuses and static. (Yep). You can then stew about it for a few days and decide that if Joy Nugget is clever enough and adult-y enough to claim himself on his taxes, he should probably either pay a reasonable rent to live at home or move out.  He chose the latter.

And this how I became a Happy Independent Empty Nester by the end of 2015 tax season.