In tax terms, a dependent is a qualifying child or relative that is supported financially by their parent or guardian. Let’s say for example, your mother claimed you as a dependent on her tax return, she would receive the benefit of a tax exemption on her tax return and you would not be eligible for the exemption for claiming yourself. A tax exemption is an exemption that reduces your taxable income.
In order for a parent or guardian to claim you as a “qualifying child” dependent, these circumstances must be true:
- You must have lived with the person claiming you for more than half the year.
- You must be: 18 or younger at the end of the tax year; under 24 if you are a full-time student; or permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, regardless of your age.
- You did not provide more than half of your own support.
If the person claiming you is not a parent or guardian, then in order for them to claim you as a “qualifying relative” this criteria about you must be true:
- Your annual income must be less than the amount of the dependent exemption for the tax year you’re being claimed as a dependent (For 2017, $4,050 or less).
- You must be related to the person claiming you, or if unrelated, you must have lived with them for the entire tax year (except for temporary absences, such as attending school).
- You aren’t the qualifying child of another person.
In addition to the criteria above, you must be a U.S. citizen or a resident of the U.S. (or U.S. national for qualifying relative), Canada or Mexico. If you’re married, you can’t file a joint return unless you’re only filling with your spouse to get a refund of withheld tax.
If someone else could claim you as a dependent on their tax return, it’s important that you let us know when you’re filling out the basic information on Credit Karma Tax. Otherwise, your tax return submission could be rejected by the IRS because your Social Security Number is listed on another tax return where you’re being claimed as a dependent. It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with everybody who might claim you as a dependent to determine who’s claiming who and make sure the IRS criteria has been met.
For more information on personal exemptions or exemptions for dependents, please refer to this IRS link.