Claiming someone as your dependent may significantly reduce the
tax liability on your federal tax return. You may be entitled to a $4,000
exemption per dependent and a Child Tax Credit of up to $1,000 per qualifying
child under age 17. Claiming someone as a dependent may also affect your filing
status. You may qualify for the Head of Household filing status or the
Qualifying Widow(er) filing status if you have a dependent. Additionally, if
you pay educational expenses for this person, claiming the person as a
dependent may allow you take advantage of education credits, the tuition and
fees deduction, or the student loan interest deduction. A dependent does not
have to be your child. Dependents can include others who are either related to
you, such as a parent, or who have lived with you during the entire year as a
member of your household.
To claim a dependent you must not be able to
be claimed as a dependent by any other taxpayer. In addition, you generally
cannot claim an exemption on a dependent who is married if they file a joint
return. You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a U.S.
citizen, a U.S. resident, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for
some part of the year. To be a dependent, the person must be your qualifying
child or qualifying relative.
A child is your
qualifying child for dependency if all six of the following tests are met:
- Relationship Test - Your qualifying child must be your:
- Child (son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child, or eligible foster
child) or descendant (for example, grandchild or great grandchild)
- Sibling, half sibling, step-sibling, or descendant (for example, nephew or
- Age Test - Your qualifying child must be younger
than you and under age 19, a full-time student under age 24, or any age if
permanently and totally disabled.
- Residency Test - Your qualifying
child must have the same main home as you for more than half the year. Special
rules may apply for kidnapped children and for temporary absences due to
special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, and
- Support Test - Your qualifying child must not
provide more than half of their own support. For full-time students, amounts
received for scholarships at an educational organization are not considered
amounts paid for support.
If a child is the qualifying child for
you and another person, you will need to decide who will claim that child as a
dependent. If both of you claim the same child, the IRS will use the following
tie-breaker rule to determine who can claim the child:
- If only one
of you is the child's parent, the parent can claim the child.
- If both
of you are the child's parents and you do not file a joint return
- The parent with whom the child lived the longest period of
time during the year can claim the child.
- If the child lived with both
parents the same amount of time, the parent with the highest adjusted gross
income can claim the child.
- If neither of you are the
child's parent and the child is a qualifying child for both, the individual with
the highest adjusted gross income may claim the child.
See the qualifying relative rules for a child who is not related to you and is not claimed by their parent.
If a person
does not meet the tests for being a qualifying child, they may qualify as your
dependent under the qualifying relative tests.
Qualifying relatives can include children who do not meet the qualifying
child Age Test, other relatives (for example, parents, grandparents, uncles,
aunts, and in-laws), and unrelated members of the household. Dependents under
the qualifying relative status do not qualify the taxpayer for the EIC or child
A person is your qualifying relative if all of the
following tests are met:
- Not a Qualifying Child Test - Your
qualifying relative must not be a qualifying child for any taxpayer.
Note: An exception to this rule is when the other taxpayer for whom the
child is a qualifying child is not required to, and does not, file a tax
return. For example, Amanda and her son, Travis, live with Jeremy all year.
Amanda worked during the holiday and earned $3,800. Amanda does not file a tax
return because she is not required to so Jeremy can claim Travis as a
qualifying relative. Jeremy is unable to claim the Child Tax Credit, Additional
Child Tax Credit, or the Earned Income Credit for Travis.
- Member of
Household or Relationship Test - Your qualifying relative must either live with
you for the entire year as a member of your household (but the relationship
cannot violate local law) or be related to you in one of the following
- Child (son, daughter, or adopted child), or descendant (for
example, grandchild or great grandchild)
half sibling, or step-sibling
- Parent or direct ancestor (for example,
grandparent or great grandparent)
- Stepfather or stepmother
- Uncle or aunt
- Nephew or niece
mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
Special rules may apply for kidnapped children and for temporary absences due
to special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, and
- Gross Income Test - Your qualifying relative cannot have a
gross income in excess of the dependent exemption amount for the year.
- Support Test - Generally, you must provide more than half of your
qualifying relative's total support. Special rules may apply when more than one
person is providing support for an individual or for children of divorced or
Contact your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt
office for more information or assistance. Use the Office Locator available on
this Web site or call 1-800-234-1040 to find the Jackson Hewitt location most
convenient to you.