By Jill Massey
Generally speaking, you cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is your qualifying child or qualifying relative.
What are the requirements for a person to be a qualifying child or a qualifying relative?
There are five requirements for a person to be a qualifying child:
1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.2
4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
5. The child is not filing a joint return for the year (unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid).
There are four requirements for a person to be a qualifying relative:
1. The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
2. The person either:
a. must be related to you in one of the following ways:
i. Your child, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild). (A legally adopted child is considered your child.)
ii. Your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister.
iii. Your father, mother, grandparent, or other direct ancestor, but not foster parent.
iv. Your stepfather or stepmother.
v. A son or daughter of your brother or sister.
vi. A son or daughter of your half brother or half sister.
vii. A brother or sister of your father or mother.
viii. Your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law, or
b. must live with you all year as a member of your household (and your relationship must not violate local law).
3. The person’s gross income for the year must be less than $3,800. (There is an exception if the person is disabled and has income from a sheltered workshop)
4. You must provide more than half of the person’s total support for the year.
Cordell & Cordell:
Note: This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax advice. You should work with your attorney or tax professional to determine the tax advantages that will work best for your situation.