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Category: Deductions

What are the qualifications for claiming a person as a Dependent or a Qualifying Child on my return?

Individuals who rely on you for support and reside in your house generally qualify for dependent tax exemptions. However, there are situations when a child's exemption status is more complicated. The IRS has special rules for these situations.

Identifying the individuals who qualify for your dependent exemptions is usually pretty simple.

In most cases, children for whom you provide support and a home qualify as dependent exemptions. Often, dependents do not fall into this exact description, so the IRS has designed five tests to determine whether a child or dependent can be considered an exemption.

These five requirements are:

* citizenship

* support

* gross income

* joint return

* relationship

We suggest you complete this simple process for each dependent so you do not make any costly errors on your tax return.

In order for you to claim an exemption for a dependent there are five requirements that must be met by each individual:

1. Citizenship
To qualify for an exemption your dependent must either be:

* a US citizen,

* a resident of the US, Canada, or Mexico for part of the year,

* a legally adopted foreign child who now resides in the US, or

* an adopted child living with you the entire year in a foreign country.

2. Relationship
To qualify for an exemption your dependent must either be:

* a relative or

* a member of your household for the entire year.

Note: Relatives do not need to live in your house to qualify as a dependent exemption. Non-relatives can be claimed as dependent exemptions only if they also live in your house.

3. Joint Return

To qualify for an exemption your dependent can NOT:

* file a joint return with a spouse. Note: This means that a taxpayer is allowed to claim a married dependent as an exemption if all other four tests are met and the dependent uses the married filing separately status.


4. Gross Income
To qualify for an exemption your dependent can NOT:

* have a gross income of more than $4,050. Note There are exceptions to this rule, which are discussed below.

5. Support
To qualify for an exemption your dependent must:

* receive more than one-half of his/her total support from you.


You should disregard the gross income test in any of the following cases. If the dependent is:

* your child, and is under age 19 on Dec 31 (Tax Year).

* your child, under 24 on Dec 31, (Tax Year), and a full time student for at least five months during (Tax Year). - IF YOUR CHILD IS A FULL-TIME STUDENT, BE SURE TO ENTER 12 MONTHS AS THE AMOUNT OF TIME THEY LIVED WITH YOU

* a permanently and totally disabled person and receives an income for services performed for a tax-exempt organization.


You can use the IRS interactive tool to assist you in determining who you can claim as a dependent on your tax return. Visit the IRS website by clicking here.