Qualifying Relative

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what is a dependent

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If you have a relative who relies on you for most of their financial assistance – be it a parent or great aunt twice removed – you can claim them as dependents as long as no one else claims them. But keep in mind that if your relative is considered a qualifying child , you cannot claim them as a dependent on your tax return. You can claim a child or relative as a dependent as long as no one else can claim that person as a dependent. Generally, you cannot claim someone as a dependent if he or she is married and filing a joint tax return. You may be able to claim a joint filer as a dependent if he or she only filed jointly in order to get a refund of estimated taxes that were paid or taxes that were withheld. Most qualifying children are the biological, adopted, or stepchildren of the taxpayers who claim them as dependents, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

If you claim the dependent under such a multiple support agreement, you should include with your return the eFileIT Form 2120 Multiple Support Declaration. When you prepare your return on eFile.com, you can include this form and efile it with your return. It can be anyone of you who provides more than 10% of the person’s support, but only one person can get to claim the dependent. Each of the other persons providing support will need to sign a statement agreeing not to claim the dependent for the year. Whoever claims the dependent should keep the signed statements for their records. In most cases, the child you’re trying to claim must live with you for more than six months out of the year. But there are exceptions for children who are away from home because they’re sick, attending college, serving in the military, starting a business or taking a vacation.

How Long Can I Keep My Child On My Plan As A Dependent?

Your girlfriend had some income, but you provided more than half of her son’s support. He is not your Qualifying Child because he is not related to you, but he is your Qualifying Relative and you can claim him as a dependent. A Qualifying Child is a child who meets the IRS requirements to be your dependent for tax purposes.

what is a dependent

In order for you to claim a relative as a dependent, that family member cannot have a gross annual income above $4,300 in 2020. The child you’re trying to claim has to meet an age test as well. Children can only be claimed as dependents if they are under the age of 19. However, you can claim full-time students as dependents until they turn 24. Their total taxable income from all sources must be less than the personal exemption amount for the year in which you want to claim them. The TCJA retains the exemption amount for purposes of qualifying for other tax breaks even though personal exemptions have been temporarily eliminated from the tax code. If your income is too high, you might not see much benefit.


Your selected PDF file will load into the DocuClix PDF-Editor. A child must meet all 6 of these requirements in order to be considered your Qualifying Child. Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. Finding the right financial advisorthat fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard.SmartAsset’s free toolmatches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who can help you achieve your financial goals,get started now. There must also be a good reason why your would-be dependent is costing you so much money, namely that they earn very little money of their own. With the signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, personal exemptions were eliminated, effective from 2018 through 2025.

The relationship can be with either you or your spouse if you file a joint return. You must have a qualifying relationship with your would-be dependent. The individual must be either a close relative or must live with you.

Moreover, a qualifying child can be as old as 23 if he or she is enrolled in school full-time. In the past, you would not be able to claim your girlfriend’s child as a Qualifying Relative because the child was the Qualifying Child of the mother, even if she did not claim the child as a dependent. Before you file taxes, you’ll need to find your dependents’ Social Security numbers. That way, you can include that information on your tax return. You cannot claim someone as a dependent if you don’t have access to a Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number or an adoption taxpayer identification number for that person.

The purpose of claiming a dependent is to provide financial relief for taxpayers. This originated in 1954 with section 151 of the IRS tax code and the introduction of personal exemptions.

You must provide more than half of your relative’s total support each year. Your child may have a job, but that job cannot provide more than half of her support.

She lived on her own, but you provided more than half of her support for the year. Any income that someone receives but does not spend on their own support is not counted as part of their income used for their own support, in the support requirement for a qualifying relative. Your brother’s 12-year old daughter lived with you for 7 months out of the year. You, your brother, and your father each provided some of her financial support during the year–but she provided none of her own support. Your niece meets the requirements to be your Qualifying Child, and you can claim her as a dependent.

But just because you mail your 78-year-old mother a check every once in a while doesn’t mean you can claim her as a dependent. Here is a checklist for determining whether your mom qualifies.

Rules For Claiming A Dependent On Your Tax Return

Bird served as a paralegal on areas of tax law, bankruptcy, and family law. She has over 30 years of writing and editing experience, including eight years of financial reporting, and is also a published author of over 30 books. Claiming a dependent increases the amount of exemptions to which you are entitled, thus reducing the amount of income on which you’ll be taxed. Your child must live with you for at least half of the year, with a few exceptions, including military deployment or children of parents who live apart. NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date.

  • He was unemployed for most of the year and had an income of only $3,000.
  • As long as the child is missing, they are considered to be living with you until the year of the child’s 18th birthday, or until the child is determined to be deceased.
  • In practical terms, it’s someone who literally “depends” on the taxpayer for support, and multiple IRS rules determine whether this is indeed the case.
  • When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions.
  • When you prepare your return on eFile.com, you can include this form and efile it with your return.
  • If your child is permanently and totally disabled, there is no age limit.

The IRS knows that some taxpayers provide their children and relatives with financial support. That’s why the government offers folks with dependents the opportunity to reduce their tax burden. Being able to claim someone as a dependent may significantly lower your tax bill, especially if you qualify for a tax break like the Earned Income Tax Creditor the Child Tax Credit. And afinancial advisorcan help you take an extra step to align your tax strategy with your overall financial goals and your dependents. Understanding who does and doesn’t qualify as a dependent on your taxes is important. Simply put, a dependent is relative for whom you’ve provided substantial financial support during the tax year.

Finally, to be claimed as a dependent, a person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. if you support your elderly parents, other relatives, or even people not related to you who live in your household. If you provide more than half the support for anyone and you haven’t claimed the person as a dependent in the past, make sure you read and understand these rules.

Your personal contribution must still be 51% or more unless they sign Form 2120, the Multiple Support Declaration, letting you claim the dependent regardless of their contributions. Your relationship with an unrelated dependent can’t be against the law in your state.

what is a dependent

The current tax code has eliminated these allowances in favor of a higher standard deduction and child tax credit, as mentioned above. However, the current iteration of the W-4 still allows you to calculate, and thus, claim children and dependents.

Depending on who you care for, your tax liability can change drastically, which is especially pertinent for larger families or those who care for aging relatives. Let’s break down who exactly qualifies as a dependent, how to claim them on your tax returns, and the challenges involved with it all. You can’t claim someone else’s qualifying child as your qualifying relative. So if your toddler lives with your parents, for example, and he meets all the tests to be their qualifying child, you can’t also claim him as your qualifying relative.

This entitles you to an increased standard deduction, which will save you taxes. Unlike the dependency exemption, which only reduces your taxable income, a tax credit reduces the amount of tax you must pay—for example, if you qualify for a $2,000 credit, you’ll pay $2,000 less tax. The more dependents you have, the less income tax you’ll have to pay.