[--- Reading Time: 2 minutes ---]

One of the most common tax questions people have is “Who can be claimed as a dependent?”.  Typically, if you provide financial support for a child or other relatives, you may be able to claim them on your tax return.  But the answer goes deeper than that.  Dependents must also meet certain tests as required by the IRS.  

How does claiming a dependent affect your taxes?

Listing a dependent on your tax return can make you eligible for more tax breaks which translates into big savings.  For instance, you may qualify for the Child Tax Credit if your child is under 17 years old.  The maximum credit is $2,000 per child and up to $1,400 can be refundable.  Those claiming an older child or aging parent, may be eligible for the Credit for Other Dependents.  It is worth up to $500 per qualifying person.  When you file with ezTaxReturn.com, we ask basic questions to determine which credits you qualify for, so you get the biggest possible refund, guaranteed.

Who qualifies as a dependent?

When it comes to who qualifies as dependent, your dependent must meet 4 important criteria.

  • They must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, or resident of Canada or Mexico.
  • If you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, then you can’t claim anyone else as a dependent.  It’s important to note that a dependent can only be claimed by one taxpayer per year.
  • You cannot claim someone who is married and filing a joint return with their spouse.
  • The person must be your qualifying child or qualifying relative.

Qualifying child

The IRS has five tests to determine whether someone is your qualifying child.  They are relationship, age, residency, support and joint return.  The details are as follows:

  • The child must be your daughter, son, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half sibling, step sibling, or one of their offspring.
  • The child must be aged 19 or younger at the end of the year.  If they’re a student, they must be under age 24.  There’s no age limit if the person is permanently and totally disabled.
  • The person must have lived with you for more than half of the year.  Temporary absences like going away to college, military service and vacations are still considered time they lived with you.
  • The person can work but they cannot provide more than half of their own financial support.
  • The child cannot be married and filing a joint return for the year.  Unless, they’re doing it to get a refund of the income taxes that were withheld, or estimated taxes paid.

Qualifying relative

As much as we’d like to think of our parents as superheroes, they won’t be young and able-bodied forever.  At some point, you may be responsible for taking them to the doctor, providing financial support and tending to their daily needs.  Here’s how to tell whether your parent (or other relative) qualifies as a dependent.

  • Their gross income must be less than $4,200 for 2019.
  • You must provide more than half of their financial support for the year.
  • You can’t claim the same person twice as a qualifying child and qualifying relative.  Also, you need to make sure they aren’t already being claimed on someone else’s tax return.
  • The person must stay at your place all year or be on the list of “Relatives who don’t have to live with you” in Publication 501.