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Publication 929

Responsibility for Child's Return(p6)

Generally, the child is responsible for filing his or her own tax return and for paying any tax, penalties, or interest on that return. If a child cannot file his or her own return for any reason, such as age, the child's parent or guardian is responsible for filing a return on his or her behalf.

Signing the child's return.(p6)

If the child cannot sign his or her return, a parent or guardian can sign the child's name in the space provided at the bottom of the tax return. Then, he or she should add: "By (signature), parent (or guardian) for minor child."

Authority of parent or guardian.(p6)

A parent or guardian who signs a return on a child's behalf can deal with the IRS on all matters connected with the return.
In general, a parent or guardian who does not sign the child's return can only provide information concerning the child's return and pay the child's tax. That parent or guardian is not entitled to receive information from the IRS or legally bind the child to a tax liability arising from the return.
Third party designee.(p6)
A child's parent or guardian who does not sign the child's return may be authorized, as a third party designee, to discuss the processing of the return with the IRS as well as provide information concerning the return. The child or the person signing the return on the child's behalf must check the "Yes" box in the "Third Party Designee" area of the return and name the parent or guardian as the designee.
If designated, a parent or guardian can respond to certain IRS notices and receive information about the processing of the return and the status of a refund or payment. This designation does not authorize the parent or guardian to receive any refund check, bind the child to any tax liability, or otherwise represent the child before the IRS. See the return instructions for more information.
Designated as representative.(p6)
A parent or guardian who does not sign the child's return may be designated as the child's representative by the child or the person signing the return on the child's behalf. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, is used to designate a child's representative. See Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney, for more information.
If designated, a parent or guardian can receive information about the child's return but cannot legally bind the child to a tax liability unless authorized to do so by the law of the state in which the child lives.
IRS notice.(p6)
If you or the child receives a notice from the IRS concerning the child's return or tax liability, you should immediately inform the IRS that the notice concerns a child. The notice will show who to contact. The IRS will try to resolve the matter with the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child consistent with their authority.

Child's earnings.(p6)

For federal income tax purposes, the income a child receives for his or her personal services (labor) is the child's, even if, under state law, the parent is entitled to and receives that income.
If the child does not pay the tax due on this income, the parent may be liable for the tax.

Child's expenses.(p6)

Deductions for payments that are made out of a child's earnings are the child's, even if the payments are made by the parent.


You made payments on your child's behalf that are deductible as a business expense and a charitable contribution. You made the payments out of your child's earnings. These items can be deducted only on the child's return.