December 28, 2021

Dependents are usually children or relatives in your household that require your care. These characteristics allow you to be eligible for some tax deductions and credits. Child tax credit, earned income tax credit and child and dependent care credit are just a few that you may be eligible for. Knowing when to claim a dependent and how will be vital to preparing your tax return this season.

What are dependent qualifications?

Your dependent will be one of the following: a qualifying child or a qualifying relative.

Qualifying Child

To claim a qualifying child, the child must be part of your family. Some qualifying relationships include:

  • Your biological child
  • Your stepchild
  • Your foster child
  • Your sibling or half sibling
  • Step sibling
  • A descendent of either of the above (which includes grandchildren, nieces, and nephews)

The child must also be of a certain age. The IRS states that one of the following must be true of the child’s age:

  • They’re 18 or younger at the end of the year and younger than you or your spouse.
  • They’re 23 or younger at the end of the year, was a student and younger than you or your spouse. To qualify as a student, the child must be full-time for at least five months of the year in question.
  • The child can be over the age limit if they are diagnosed by a doctor as permanently disabled.

Another important key factor to claiming a dependent is that the child must live with you for more than half of the tax year. The IRS provides particular exceptions for temporary absences (such as extended hospital stay, college, or juvenile detention). Other exceptions include children of divorced or separated parents and children that were kidnapped.

Should the child in question get a job and provide at least half of their own financial support, you cannot claim them as a dependent.

The child can’t file a joint tax return with someone and be claimed as a dependent. The exception to this rule is if the child and their spouse file a joint return only to claim an income tax or estimated tax refund.

Last, but not least, the child must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, U.S. national or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

Qualifying relative

Qualifying relatives do not have an age limit, however other conditions must be met.

  • They can’t be someone else’s qualifying child
  • They must be related to you or live with you
  • Their gross income for the year can’t be more than $4,300 in the 2021 tax year
  • You have to provide more than half of the person’s total financial support for the year

Additional assistance and tax prep services

Claiming a dependent and remaining compliant with the tax code can be very confusing. If you realize you may have made a mistake that triggered penalties and now owe a liability, you may be eligible for tax relief services. Give us a call at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation today.