Who Can be Claimed as a Tax Dependent?

At tax time, you want to take all the deductions you can, right? So you’re probably interested to know whether the people living under your roof and eating your food can be claimed as dependents on your tax return. For 2016, each dependent can reduce taxable income by $4,050.


Tax filers are allowed to claim a qualifying dependent, even if that dependent files an income tax return. A dependent is defined as a qualifying child or qualifying relative. Not surprisingly, a number of rules define who qualifies as a “child” or a “relative”.


Also no surprise — this space is limited and tax rules are complex. The following is merely a summary of the tax rules about dependents. It does not address all the exceptions and scenarios that could impact your situation.


General Rules


All dependents must be a qualifying child or a qualifying relative.


In all situations, tax filers cannot:

  • Claim any dependents if the tax filer is a qualifying dependent of another person.
  • Claim a married person who files a joint return, unless it is filed only to get a refund.
  • Claim a person who does not pass the residency test.


A Qualifying Child is defined as:

  • Your child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, half -sibling, step-sibling, or their descendants.
  • A person under age 19, under age 24 if a student, or any age if permanently and totally disabled.
  • A person who passes the residency test.
  • A child who did not provide more than half of his or her own support.

Even more rules apply if a child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person.


A Qualifying Relative is defined as:


  • A person who is not a qualified child of the tax filer or of another taxpayer.
  • A member of your household per local law.
  • A person with gross annual income less than the personal exemption amount.
  • A relative for whom the tax filer provided more than half of the total support.


Special rules may apply to relatives who do not live with the tax filer.


Confused yet? Need more details? Check out the IRS website here: http://bit.ly/2lXr9UM