In tax terms, a dependent is a qualifying child or relative who’s supported financially by someone else and meets the additional requirements provided below.
Go to this section in Credit Karma Tax: Your Dependents
The dependent must meet these prerequisites to qualify:
- They can’t be claimed as a dependent on another tax return.
- They’re a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or resident of Canada or Mexico.
- They’re not filing a joint return unless they’re filling a return with their spouse to receive a tax refund of tax withholding or estimated taxes they paid.
In order for you to claim a dependent as a qualifying child, all of the following must be true:
- The child must be your son, adopted child, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of these.
- You, or your spouse if married filing jointly, lived with the person you’re claiming for more than half the year (with the exception of temporary absences).
- At the end of the tax year, they’re one of the following:
- Under 19,
- Under 24 if they’re a full-time student, or
- Permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, regardless of age.
- You’ve provided more than half of their living expenses.
- The child is not filing a joint return unless they’re filling a return with their spouse to receive a tax refund of tax withholding or estimated taxes they paid.
If they aren’t a qualifying child based on the restrictions above, they might meet the criteria of a qualifying relative. In order for you to claim a dependent as a qualifying relative, all of the following must be true:
- Their annual income is below the dependent exemption amount for the tax year they’re being claimed as a dependent (For 2018, $4,150 or less).
- You’re related to the person you’re claiming, or if unrelated, you’ve lived with them for the entire tax year (with the exception of temporary absences).
- They aren’t a qualifying child or relative of another taxpayer.
You must provide more than half of this person’s total support for the year.
What if someone claims me as their dependent?
If someone can claim you as a dependent, it’s important to properly report this information on your tax return. Your tax return may be rejected if your Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) was already listed as a dependent on another tax return and you fail to report on your own return that someone else claims you as a dependent. You should have a conversation with anyone who may claim you as a dependent to avoid confusion or conflicting tax returns.
Go to this section in Credit Karma Tax: Personal Information
Can I claim my spouse as a dependent?
You can’t claim your spouse as your dependent. If you’re unsure about the qualifications of a dependent, you can use the interactive interview offered by the IRS.
You may be able to claim an exemption for your spouse when married filing separately if your spouse had no taxable income for the year, isn’t filing a return, and isn’t a dependent of another taxpayer.