In 1984, Congress amended Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) Section 152(e) to create an unambiguous presumption in favor of the custodial parent receiving the dependency exemption(s). The language of Code Section 152(e) expressly provides that the custodial parent may release his/her presumptive right to the noncustodial parent if the custodial parent signs a written declaration to that effect On its face, however, Section 152(e) does not provide a state domestic relations court with the power to order the custodial parent to execute the release. Yet, it is this very power which the domestic relations courts of several states, including Ohio, are exercising on a daily basis? Was this the intent of Congress when it amended the federal law? The state courts are at polar ends of the spectrum on this question.s Adding to this confusion, is the fact that the United States Supreme Court has not yet addressed the issue. In Hughes v. Hughes, the Ohio Supreme Court held that Section 152(e), as amended by the Tax Reform Act of 1984, did not prohibit a state domestic relations court from awarding federal dependency exemption(s) to the noncustodial parent. Moreover, the majority found that the lower court's action did not infringe on congressional power to lay and collect taxes on income. The Ohio Supreme Court based its decision upon an analysis of Section 152(e) and its regulations, the legislative history behind the amendment and stated concerns of the Internal Revenue Service.

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