Vol. 4, No. 1 Fall 1999
Parents ask DSS
Response by Joan S. McAllister, N.C. Division of Social
How does being a foster parent affect me at tax time? Do I have
to report board rate as household income? Do I have to report food
stamps as income? Can I claim my foster child as a tax dependent?
Can I claim what I spend on my foster kids above and beyond the
board rate as a charitable contribution?
board payments. Board payments are not considered to be income for
foster parents. For more on this topic, see IRS Pub. 17, Chap. 13, “Other
You do not have to report food stamps received by you or your foster
children as part of your income.
children as dependents. Foster parents cannot claim a foster child
as a dependent unless they can document that they pay more than half
of the support (as defined by the IRS in Pub. 501, “Exemptions, Standard
Deduction, and Filing Information”) for the child. Few people fall into
contributions. Foster parents can deduct as a charitable contribution
some of the costs of being a foster parent (foster care provider) if
they have no profit motive in providing the foster care and are not,
in fact, making a profit. The children in question must be placed in
your home by DSS or another qualified child-placing agency. IRS Pub.
17, Chap. 13, “Contributions You Can Deduct,” states that “you can deduct
expenses that are: greater than any nontaxable payments you receive
from the organization, and spent to provide support for those individuals.”
Charitable contributions of this type must be well documented.
information? The IRS has a very helpful website
as well as live, 24-hour, 7-days-a-week telephone assistance. In North
Carolina, call 800/829-1040. Or consult a tax professional in your community.
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What is the “chain of command” of the county DSS? Does it go all the
way up to the Governor?
has a state-supervised, county-administered child welfare system. The
“chain of command” for a county DSS agency, in order, is
Manager (in larger agencies)
of Social Services.
Division of Social Services has the responsibility to assure that county
DSS agencies comply with applicable federal and state laws and policies.
The Division does follow-up when there are reported violations of law
or policy. State law gives the responsibility for decisions about individual
cases to the county DSS Director. The Director also assumes responsibility
for internal personnel actions such as hiring, firing, or disciplinary
parents should feel free to contact DSS supervisory staff or the DSS
Director with any concerns that cannot be resolved with the social worker.
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