There are two types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying relatives.
Your dependent may be your qualifying child if all of the following requirements are met:
- Relationship: They must be your child, stepchild, adopted child, foster-child, brother or sister, half brother or half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of one of these (grand, niece or nephew).
- Residence: They had to live with you in the same residence for more than half the year. Being away at school is considered living at home and if a child was born or passed away during the year they are treated as living with you for the entire year.
- Age: At the end of the year, they must be either:
- Under 19 or
- Under 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months of the year.
- They can be any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.
- Support: They can’t have provided more than half of their own financial support. They can work, but if they provide more than half of their own support, then you cannot claim them as your qualifying child.
If the person you support doesn’t meet the qualifying child requirements, they may still be a dependent under the qualifying relative rule. If you take care of your ailing parent or an unrelated party who lives with you all year, you may be able to claim them as a qualifying relative. In order for them to be considered a qualifying relative dependent,, all of these conditions must be met:
- They made less than $4,050 during the tax year.
- You provided more than half of their support for the year.
- They lived with you all year as a member of your household. There are special exceptions to this rule if they are a relative of yours.
You can claim an exemption for dependents that meet the qualifying child rules. Having a qualifying child can be a part of the eligibility requirements for the Child Tax Credit, the Additional Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
You can claim an exemption for dependents that meet the qualifying relative rules and having a qualifying relative can also allow you to claim the Head of Household filing status instead of the Single filing status, which results in a bigger standard deduction.
In order to claim an exemption for someone to be your qualifying child or relative, they must meet these additional requirements:
- Nobody else claimed them (or is going to claim them) as a dependent, and
- They are a U.S. citizen or resident, a resident of Canada or Mexico, or a U.S. national if qualifying relative, and
- They don’t file a joint return with someone else, unless they are only filing a joint return in order to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.
If your child or relative that you help support already claimed themselves when they filed their return (took an exemption for themselves), or someone else claimed them, you can’t claim them this year.
We’ll ask you some basic questions and determine if someone is your dependent for you when you file your taxes with Credit Karma Tax.
You can also take a short interview on the IRS website.