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Accounting Information > Income Taxes > Who can you claim as a dependent

Who Can You Claim as a Dependent?

             When filing your income tax return, it benefits you to have as many dependents as legally possible.  Each dependent means another personal exemption, which reduces your taxable income, thereby reducing your tax liability.  However, sometimes it can get a little complicated when determining exactly who can be claimed as a dependent.

             Your spouse is not considered your dependent, but you do receive a personal exemption for them.  This exemption is not based on support,  but rather on the simple fact that you are married to this person.


             Dependents can be separated into two classifications.  There are qualifying children, and then there are qualifying relatives.  Qualifying children include some people you would not automatically think of as qualifying children.  Your child, stepchild, and foster child are included.  Also considered qualifying children are your siblings, step-siblings, and the children of any of the qualifying children already mentioned.  All of these people would be qualifying children if the residence, age, and support tests are satisfied. 

             The child must have lived in the same residence as you for over half of the year, not including temporary absences, such as vacation or living at college.  To qualify, the child must be younger than nineteen years old, or under twenty-four years old if they were a full-time student for five months or more that year.  The age requirement is waived if the child was totally and permanently disabled during the year.  The child must not have provided more than half of their own support.  The child must be a United States citizen or national, or a United States, Mexico, or Canada resident.  Some adopted children would qualify with an exception for this requirement.  If the child is married, they cannot have filed a joint return with their spouse.  The only exception to this would be if the joint return was only filed for the purpose of receiving a refund. 

             Someone can be considered your dependent as a qualifying relative if certain requirements are met.  The person must be your relative who is not a qualifying child or must be a member of your household.  The relative’s gross income must be less than $3,400.  In order to qualify, you must have supplied more than half of the person’s support, or over ten percent of their support under the multiple support test.

             If a qualifying child or relative that can be claimed as your dependent could also be claimed by someone else as a dependent, there are certain “tie-breaker rules” that are used to determine which taxpayer gets to claim the person as their dependent.

             Even if your dependents meet all the requirements given, you will not be able to claim any of them as dependents if you, or your spouse if filing a joint return, can be claimed as a dependent by someone else.

             Are you currently looking for a CPA or Accounting Firm to assist you with your income tax reporting, bookkeeping, financial planning, or general accounting needs?  You have come to the right place!  Try out the CPA Search feature on this website.


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