Who can I claim as a dependent

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

If you have children in their teenage years, you may have found yourself wondering how long they can be claimed as a dependent on your tax return. While the benefit for claiming dependents on your tax return pales in comparison to the cost of supporting a child, most parents will gladly take the help when they can get it. So, who can I claim as a dependent in the eyes of the IRS?

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The IRS separates dependents into two categories- qualifying child and qualifying relative. To be considered a qualifying child, each of the following tests must be met:

  1. Relationship – the child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half sibling, step sibling or a descendant of any of them (such as a grandchild, niece or nephew).
  2. Age – the child must be under age 19 on the last day of the tax year, younger than you (or your spouse if filing a joint return) or be permanently disabled at any time during the year, regardless of age. Parents who continue to provide over half the support for any child under the age of 24 can continue to claim them as a qualifying child if they are considered full-time students for at least five out of 12 months during the year.
  3. Residency – the child must have lived with you for more than half the year. As with most tax laws, there are exceptions to this rule, the most common being children of divorced or separated parents. In this case, the divorce or separation decree may dictate who can claim the child each year.
  4. Support – the child cannot have provided more than half of his/her own support for the year.
  5. Joint return – the child cannot file a joint return during the same tax year.

To be considered a qualifying relative so you can claim them as a dependent, the following tests must be met:

  1. Qualifying child test – if your individual meets all the requirements to be a qualifying child, they would not be considered a qualifying relative.
  2. Member of household or relationship test – must have lived with you all year as a member of your household. If they are a blood-relative, they are not required to have lived in your household for the entire year.
  3. Gross income test – the individual’s gross income must be less than $4,300.
  4. Support test – you must generally provide more than half the support for the individual during the calendar year.

If you have any questions, contact your Henry+Horne tax professional today!

Christopher Cluff