Who Can I Claim as a Dependent for This Tax Year?

That is one of the trickiest questions when it comes to preparing your taxes. It’s so difficult because the nature of families has changed so much. Back in the days before divorce was as common as it is today, claiming a dependent was easy. Two parents meant one married filed jointly return that claimed all the children. Today, just having the parents separated and filing two returns can mean audits if you’re not careful!

It’s also important to make sure you’re claiming every dependent you can. If this recent economic crisis has taught us anything, it’s that it’s very important to get your taxes right so you get the largest refund you’re entitled to. Last year, the average tax refund was nearly three thousand dollars according to the IRS. Who wouldn’t want an extra $3,000 to help with bills this year?

So, let’s discuss how the rules have changed and who you can claim as a dependent for the tax year 2010.

Qualifying Dependents

By definition, a dependent is someone who is a qualifying child or qualifying relative, which by definition makes it only possible for that dependent to appear on one tax return. When it comes to deciding if someone is a qualifying child or relative, qualifying child takes precedence if the individual satisfies all the requirements..

Qualifying Child

To be considered a qualifying child, you need to satisfy four criteria – relationship, residence, age, and support. On relationship, the child must be your child, step child, adopted or foster child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (so nephews count too). They must live with you for more than half the year (residence) and be under the age of nineteen unless they are in college, then the age limit rises to twenty four. The age restriction is removed if they are totally and permanently disabled. Finally, you must provide more than half of his or her financial support during the year.

Qualifying Relative

To satisfy the requirements to be a qualifying relative, there are six requirements. First, they can’t be a qualifying child. They have to earn less than the personal exemption amount during the year, which for TY2010 was $3,650. You must also provide more than half of the total support. If they are married, they cannot file a joint return with their spouse (this would be double counting). They must be related to you in some way (the laundry list includes every conceivable familial relationship you can think of) or live with you for the entire year. Finally, they have to be a citizen or resident alien of the United States, Canada, or Mexico.

As you can see, many of the rules exist so that one dependent cannot be claimed on two returns.

Finally, we leave with this word of warning. This is also one of the areas where being accurate is crucial. If you claim someone who is already being claimed by another taxpayer, you’ll get audited regardless of which tax bracket you’re in. This makes it especially important for divorced parents to communicate with one another.

Comments (126) Leave your comment

  1. My son who turned 22 in July started a job after he finished college in June. Can I still claim him on my tax returns since i provided all his support for six months of this year. College tuition etc. He will probably make almost 40,000 from his job in 2014.


  3. Im a military deployed in Japan on 2010-2013 got married on 2012 with two child. My question is can i file an amend for the year 2012 since they are here in the US now and has a SSn? We live in Japan all together since 2012 and they do have ITIN that time but when we filed our tax we didn’t get anything for my wife and stepchildren. I filed married joint since my wife don’t have work.

  4. My wife earns less than 3000$ per year and a US Citizen. Can I claim her as dependent. We were thinking whether this $3000 per year job is helping us any way. I earn around $90K and thinking we will save better if she does not work at all. Please advice whether we are right. Thank you.

    • Your wife is never your dependent. If you file MFJ, you will have an exemption for her and one for you + one for each dependent.
      Mike, EA

  5. This May I will finish my 2nd year of college. I am considering taking a year off to work and save money before transferring to a University. Because my father claims me as a dependent, I qualify as an in-state student for the University I want to attend. However, I am 19 and if I do that then I won’t be a student in the fall. I will have been a student for the 5 months of January-May, but if the school year ends early to mid May is that still considered a full 5 months? Want to ensure I understand the consequences of the decision.

    • Yes, part of May (even a day) counts as a month:

      Student defined. To qualify as a student, your child must be, during some part of each of any 5 calendar months of the year:

      . A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, or

      . A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described in (1), or by a state, county, or local government agency.

      The 5 calendar months do not have to be consecutive.

      Good luck with the studies,
      Mike, EA

  6. Im 18 years old working a part time job ive only been working for 3 months. No one else is working in my house of 5. My parents and my 2 little sisters, but my dad gets a small check once every month only a couple hundred under $700. Can I claim my sisters?

    • Jada – you are asking about qualifying relatives.

      Here’s the rules:
      1) They must not be your qualifying child – Okay, they’re your sisters & parents.

      2) They must have lived with you as a member of your household all year, or be a brother, sister, parent or a number of other “qualifying relatives”

      3) Their gross income must be less than 3,950 (2014) – so your Dad will not qualify.

      4) You generally must provide more than half of a person’s total support during the calendar year.
      You need to add up the entire cost of the support of each person you want to claim. This includes “lodging” which your parents may be providing? Use the worksheet #3-1 in IRS Publication 17 to help figure this out.

      Good luck – I hope all them including your Mom are your qualifying relatives!

      Mike, EA

  7. I have a son his 19 years old and he lived with me in 2013,he graduated high school in June 2013 can i claim him as dependent ?

  8. can i claim my parents on my return if they both receive ss benefits. dad got 10,104.00 and mom 4512.00. we all live together. thx

  9. Can I claim my 70 yr old blind disabled sister who lives with me and can no longer take care of herself?

  10. My kids been claim from tee he grandmother since their were born .. n the irs ia asking for proff n she doesn’t have all the papers to meet their needs can some one else claim now?

  11. My husband is in basic training. We were married in 2013 and he made well over ten thousand dollars last year. He was a fulltime student from january to may. He turned twenty in december. His mom is trying to claim him. Can she?

  12. My sons mothers current husband claimed my son this year. We have a joint custody and I have claimed him since he was born. Since their married my tax preparer has told me he can, but she doesn’t work and I have him jointly, how can this be possible?

    • Only if:
      1. she is not a qualifying child for another
      2. she earned less than 3900,
      3. you provide over 1/2 her support for the year
      She must not file a MFJ return, except to possibly claim a refund AND was she a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico

  13. I graduated high school in may 2013 while I was still 18. I did not go to college in the fall but I took 2 dual enrollment college classes in high school my senior year. I turned 19 in sept and still live with my mom and not in school. Can she still claim me?

    • Yes, if you were a full-time student and under age 24.
      Note the IRS definition of a full-time student:
      To qualify as a student, your child must be, during some part of each of any 5 calendar months of the year:

      A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, or on-the-farm training.
      Mike, EA

  14. My daughter is a full-time grad student (age 22) and was married in August. Can she and her spouse (22) file “married filing jointly” if they are 1)residents of different states (PA and MD) and living apart at different schools (PA and TX)and 2) both parents claim them on the respective parents’ tax returns as dependents (therefore my daughter and son-in-law would not be allowed to claim an exemption for themselves on their own return)?

    • Linda – you’ve been studying!
      Correct, as long as they did not provide over 1/2 of their own support, and do not claim a personal exemption.
      They could even file MFJ if the only purpose of the return is to claim a refund of withheld or estimated taxes.
      Good luck,
      Mike, EA

  15. Important question please Help!!! I have had my two children full time since June 11th 2013 and stated that to the court when i went to file for custody and i got joint custody all rights in September 2013… SHE only received joint custody (visitation only) now she is trying to claim them saying i didnt have placement until september when ive had them full time since june i should be eligible for child tax credit this year ? I earned $1,300 for federal and only $378 for state ?!? HELP PLEASE THANK YOU

    • BL, I’ll try to keep this short . . .
      The IRS does NOT care what the courts say. Per the IRS, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child spends the most nights. If the non-custodial parent claims the child and files first, the other parent will have to paper file their return. In the end you will win provide you can provide clear proof. Keep a log with receipts, pictures, etc.
      Good luck,
      Mike, EA

    • You must meet the requirements for a qualifying child or qualifying relative – see IRS pub 17 or 501.
      Being disabled merely avoids the age rule for a qualifying child.
      Best to you,
      Mike, EA

  16. My boyfriend has full custody of his sons but his mother has guardianship of them and does not file taxes can my boyfriend still claim them as a dependent on his taxes he gives his mother 200 dollars a month to get the boys what they need we r confused he always claimed when he got divorced and his ex wife had custody but now this is a different situation and it has us wondering who claims them if anyone does

    • Belinda,
      A parent always has first right to claim their child’s exemption.
      HOWEVER, you say they live with his mother? For Dad to claim them, they must have lived with him for over 1/2 the year.
      Stick together, get a home for the kids, and form a family – things will get better.
      Good luck!!
      Mike, EA

  17. My boyfriend has full custody of his two sons but his mom has guardianship of them can my boyfriend still claim on his taxes

  18. my husband has been the only one who worked this past tax period. I have been a stay at home mom to our four children. Can he as head of household claim me as his wife and our four kids as a dependent on our joint tax return. I am not a kid but would I fall under relative as his wife.

    • Sandra – four children – you worked as hard as he did!!!
      Okay, you’re married, you’re not a dependent, you’re a spouse. When you file MFJ you will get 6 exemptions – 1 for hubby, 1 for you, 1 for each child. He is not head of household – file MFJ.
      Bless you!
      Mike, EA

  19. I have been claimed by my roommate for the last 3 years I had no income. This past year I worked for the last 5 months of the year and made 4100.00. She paid all the bills and still does and I still live here.

    • Dana, things are getting better – you got a job!
      However, since you earned over $3,900, you no longer qualify as a qualifying relative, so your roommate can not claim you.
      Enjoy the income,
      Mike, EA

  20. Hello! I have a question. My husband have 2 kids with he’s ex partner of 4 year ago. He pay monthly for the kids. She’s married and have more kids. When my husband got Separate she told him to use the the SSN of the kids for dependents. Which he use to give her money for the taxes. Now all of sudden she wants to use the ssn# to Let them borrow to someone else. What can we do?

    • Anna, The IRS says the custodial parent is the one with whom the child spends the most nights. The custodial parent has the right to the exemption. The custodial parent may assign that right to the non-custodial parent each year, or for several years by using form 8332.
      For someone else to claim the children, the children would have to be their qualifying relative – they would have to live with that person over 1/2 the year.
      If you suspect tax fraud, report it on form 3949-A.
      Tax Cheats cost us all!
      Mike, EA

  21. Our divorce decree states that my ex and I each claim one child on our tax returns until there is only one eligible child to claim. At that point we are to alternate claiming. There would only be one year this would occur – this year. My ex already filed and claimed our son and didn’t tell me until after he filed. I have custody of our son and he lived with me the entire year. Neither of us can claim him next year. Is there any recourse??

    • Yep! The IRS doesn’t care what the courts say. If the child was with you for over 1/2 the year (and met all the other requirements – age, etc) then you are the custodial parent and you get the exemption. Your only recourse is to claim your child, and paper file (efile will be rejected). Provide a statement explaining that you are the custodial parent. In the end you will win this one.
      Mike, EA

    • Cassie, do you meet the requirements? Did your son live with you over 1/2 the year? Is he under age 19? He is not filing a joint return? He is a US citizen or meets the resident test?

      You probably can, however who would receive the better tax benefit if you only worked 2 months? Without more information, I can not be any help.
      Mike, EA

  22. Can my husband claim me as a dependent on his taxes? I receive social security income, i dont want it to effect me nor him.

    • Stephanie – NO, you are married, you are his spouse. You should file MFJ. You will receive an exemption for you and one for your husband, receive better tax rates, and possibly not even pay taxes on your SS income.
      Hope that helps,
      Mike, EA

    • Davis – NO, he is your husband not a dependent. File MFJ and you will each receive an exemption.

      (however he may also be a defendant – is he being sued?)

      Mike, EA

  23. For the year 2013. I only worked for 2 weeks. I am a part time student. I live with my mother and my 3 kids. I was wondering, can I claim my kids if my only income was child support? My mother had helped me with other cost for my kids. Please let me know what I can do or would it be the fathers right to claim them cause I didn’t work?

    • Michelle,
      Your children lived with you the entire year (or at least over 1/2 the year), you are the custodial parent. The father has no claim to the children’s exemptions, unless you give it to him by using form 8332.
      The child support you receive is non-taxable income to you.
      You would most likely do better allowing your mother to claim you and the children as dependents. If you file and claim the children, beings you had very little income (2 weeks), you are wasting their exemptions.
      Hope that helps,
      Mike, EA

  24. Provided the other qualifications are met (not a qualifying child, below the maximum income, and at least 50% of support), can a great aunt claim her grand nephew (her sister’s grandson) as a dependent relative?

    • T. Smith, Your great aunt could claim me as a qualifying relative as long as I meet the requirements. There is no relation required. Two things usually stop this – the income of the dependent being over 3900, or they didn’t live the ENTIRE year with the taxpayer.

      When can I move in?
      Best to you and Auntie,
      Mike, EA

    • Martha,

      Do they meet the requirements of a Qualifying Relative (pub 501)?
      They must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

      Can they be claimed by anyone else? like you?
      Could they be your qualifying child?
      Do they file a joint return with someone else?
      Did they make 3,900 or more?

      If the answers are all no, and your daughter provided over 1/2 of the support for the entire year, she can claim them as qualifying relatives.

      Does that make sense?
      Mike, EA

  25. My mother is married and not legally separated and has lived with me Since Jan 4, 2013. Can I claim her as a dependent? She only has SSI less than $600/mo. Not sure if her husband will try to claim her? If he does she will not sign the return. I need some advice here

    • Amy, if she refuses to sign a MFJ return, her husband can not file MFJ and thus he will not receive an exemption for his spouse.

      Tax-exempt income, such as certain social security benefits, is not included in gross income. Thus she should pass the gross income test of earning less than 3900.

      Parents do not have to live with you to qualify as a dependent, but you must have provided over 1/2 their support for the year.

      Mom is most likely not even required to file as her gross income that is not exempt from tax is too low. If she had gross income of less than 3900 she could be your qualifying relative.

      Hope that helps, take care of Mom, you only get one!
      Mike, EA

  26. If my son in law who is in the military does not claim my daughter on his taxes because she is still living with me can I claim her as a dependent still? She still has lived under my roof and still falls under all four qualifications.

    • Stan, your SIL would not “claim’ your daughter. They are married, thus they could file MFJ, which would mean two exemptions for them. As you suggest, he could file MFS and thus leave her exemption out.

      But to your question – you mention “four qualifications” so I assume you’ve ruled out qualifying child. . . .So qualifying relative –
      As long as she does not file MFJ, or files MFJ only to claim a refund of w/h or estimated payments,
      She does not have to live with you, but
      Her gross income must be under 3900 – if you are in a community property state, 1/2 of her husbands income is her income. This doesn’t pass the smell test . . .
      You must have provided over 1/2 of her support. If her husband is in the military, they have income. Be sure you meet this requirement.

      I think in the end you’ll find it better for them to file MFJ, get a better refund.
      Continue to support them,
      Hope that helps,
      Mike, EA

  27. I have 30% placement of my son and it is written in the divorce papers that I get to claim him every other year and the mother is not working and hasn’t all year. This is not my year to claim him but since she is not working am I able to? Or would his mothers current boyfriend who is living with them be able to claim him (is not related)? Also on my years to claim him, am I also able to claim him for the eic credit since I pay child support every month and have 30% placement even though he does not stay with me for more than 6 months/year?

    • Lisa, you raise a couple complicated questions . . .
      First off – understand that what the court says holds no water with the IRS. The IRS says that with whom ever the child stayed with the most nights is the custodial parent. Only the custodial parent may claim the child exemption or sign it over to the non-custodial parent using form 8332. However, there is always a possibility of the court forcing one to sign over the exemption per the divorce decree – but that’s a court battle for another topic. . . .
      So if this is her year, and your son stayed more nights with her than you, you’re probably going to lose that battle.
      Can the BFclaim the child as a qualifying relative? – only if the child meets all the tests –
      Lived with the taxpayer the ENTIRE year – oops might have failed that test.
      The child earned less than 3900.
      The T/P provided over 1/2 of the support.

      Earned Income Credit – requires the qualifying child live with the taxpayer over 1/2 of the year. So, if you only have the child 30% of the time, no EIC.

      What to do if the BF claims the child? File form 3949-A

      Hope that clears the questions,
      Mike, EA

  28. Our daughter graduated college in May 2013, she got married in June 2013.So can we claim her on our taxes.

    • Our daughter graduated college in May 2013, she got married June 22, 2013. Can we claim her on our taxes or the new husband’s tax return?

    • Phylis,
      Congrats – a college grad and married. Might be time to let go?

      If she was under age 24 and a full-time student for 5 months, did not file a joint return, did not provide over 1/2 her own support, then it sounds like she might qualify as a qualifying child. See pub 501 – qualifying child rules.

      If she is not a qualifying child, maybe qualifying relative – Did she earn over 3900? Remember community property states say 1/2 her husbands income is here income.

      Review pub 501 and come back with any questions,
      Mike, EA

  29. Can you still claim a child as dependent for 2013 if they get married in december of 2013? College student, doesn’t have a job, and lives at home with parents.

    • Angela, marriage is not the problem – it’s income (over 3900), and did they file a joint return. So in your case, possibly.

      Review Pub 501 qualifying child & relative rules.

      Mike, EA

  30. I have a roommate who has been living with us for the past 2 years. He is not related to us, but he is considered a member of our household.

    He will be making less than $1000 this year, and I have provided all of his financial support since he moved in. He repays us with housework & donating the small amount he makes from his job.

    My question is: can I claim him as a dependent?

  31. My husband didn’t work from the en of May till the middle of November. His income for the year will not reach $ 15 000. We have 2 children 7 and 13. Can I claim my husband as a dependent?

    • Nora – you are married. Your hubby is your spouse, even if he earned nothing. File MFJ, you will get an exemption for you + one for hubby + 1 for each child (dependents) – total of 4.
      Hope things are better in 2014!
      Mike, EA

  32. I have a roommate that I brought into my household 2 years ago. We are not related, but he lives in our house, shares our groceries, and otherwise is treated as a member of the family. I cover at least 90% of his expenses.
    He has a job, but will be earning less than $3000 this year.

    Can I claim him as a dependent?

  33. can I claim my boyfriend who is unemployed and is receiving social security disability benefits as he is legally blind. He is currently receiving $2000/24k annual benefits and he doesn’t file taxes.

    • Question: Our grandson who is 18 has been living with us since June 19th,2013. He is still in high school,doesn’t work however,does receive a social security death benefit of $919.00 a month,which his car insurance,phone bill and gas money comes out of. We do not take any money from him, and he has a separate savings account. Can we claim him on our 2013 taxes? His biological mother has contributed nothing. We do not charge room or board.

    • Jenna – you are a treasure!
      Social security disability is not considered when determining gross income for a qualifying relative (max = 3900). He must have lived in your house the entire year, and you must have provide for over 1/2 of his support.
      Review the other requirements in Pub 501, but it sure sounds like he is your dependent and you are his rock!
      Hang in there,
      Mike, EA

  34. hello,

    my husband is unemployed for 6 months now, do i need a waiver of husband? because it says on the waiver that it must be sign by both employers of husband and wife.

  35. Can my wife and I both have a personal allowances for our child on our W-4’s? I know that since we file taxes jointly that only we can only claim the child once.

    • Yep, just realize the more allowances you claim, the less withholding is taken, and the possibility of having to pay more come April 15th. Lots of people figure their expected taxes and claim an extra allowance – just be sure to plan for it.
      Mike, EA

  36. my wifes ex husband doesnt claim their daughter on his taxes as a dependent. Can he claim her on his unemployment since he lost his job?

    • Do dependents affect unemployment benefits? I doubt it, but I honestly don’t know. And I don’t know if they must be qualified dependents.

      Mike, EA

  37. I was divorced legally in may of this year and have 3 kids I currently live with my bf and he provides all of our support my youngest is his but I was unable to put his name on birth cert because she was born b4 I could get my divorce settled so it currently says husbands information withheld my question is when he files taxes for 2013 can he claim me and my kids? would he be able to file as head of household? we live in the state of florida if that helps thank you

    • Sarah,
      Claiming your child’s exemption depends on with whom your child spent the most nights. That is the custodial parent, and that parent decides who can claim the children.

      If any of you lived with the BF the ENTIRE year, and he provided over 1/2 of the total support, then he could possibly claim each as a dependent. See Pub 501 – qualifying relative rules.

      If on Dec 31 you were not legally married, your ex can not file MFJ and claim your spousal exemption. If the children did not live with him over 1/2 of the nights in the year, then with a form 8332 signed by you, he cannot claim them. Thus he cannot file as HOH.

      Hope that helps,
      Mike, EA

  38. My daughter will be getting married in December 2013. I have paid 90% of all her living/college expenses for 2013. She recently has gotten a job and will likely make enough to file a tax return for 2013, however I have continued to pay her expenses. Will I be able to claim her and the expenses that I am out on college once she is married? Will I be able to claim her if she is required to file a return?

  39. My 29 y/o daughter is disabled. As a single parent, I have always claimed her as a dependent. She is getting married this fall. She and her husband will continue living with me as they are unable to live on their own. From what I’ve read, I believe I can continue to claim her as a dependent her as long as her husband doesn’t. I will continue to support her 100%. He only works part time and does not receive any money like social security for his disability as she does.

    As with Lan’s question on June 10th, would he get a personal exemption for her and him?

    Thank You

  40. Can my husband claim me as a depedent this yrs 2013 income tax? But I’m receiving social secerity disability.

    • Hi Lan,
      Your spouse can not claim you as a dependent, but he will get a personal exemption of $3,900 for each of you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  41. I am having troubles with my fasfa application. how do i emancipate myself from my parents income tax? I don’t live with them for 4years. They still claimed me on the tax,

  42. Hello, a few weeks ago I tried filing my taxes online and they were rejected. It stated that my dependent was already used by someone else, which is her dad. I normally claim her every year and she lives with me 90% of the time so i don’t understand why he would just claim her. Also as of sept 2012 he no longer gives me child support (350.00 a month and he makes almost 6,000 a month) What do I do? Can I still claim her even though I was on unemplyment. Please help. Thank you.

  43. HI,
    My daughter got married in June 2012. We paid for her tuition in January of 2012. She is 28. Can we claim her as our dependent. She was in F-1 visa. She got married to US citizen. She stayed with us till the end of August 2012.
    Can our son in-law lawfully ask us to show him the original tax return and the amended one.

  44. I have the same problem as chanchan, but it still wouldnt let my bf/the father of my child claim her also, its asking for a form, but we arent married. please help so we could get out taxes out the way, it really doesnt matter who claims our daughter just as long one of us can.

  45. I have two children from my current boyfriend. Me and my boyfriend are not married yet. We agreed that he will be claiming our kids as he earn more income than me. But I’m little confuse whether to add my kids while preparing my tax return. When filing my tax return on turbotax online, it asked if i have children or financially support another person, and of course i answered yes. Then it goes to a question who do i support? the selection include “my child” and “i don’t support anyone”. I support my kids but like I said my boyfriend is claiming them on his tax return. In the end of the questionnaires, it said that my two kids were “nondependent”. Is this “nondependent” mean that I’m not claiming them but still shows that i have kids? Or should i not even add them at all? I would be lying if I answer no when it asked if i have children. Please help.

    • Hi Chanchan – It appears they are not being included as your dependents on your return. The question is whether or not your boyfriend qualifies to claim them. The rules can be quite complex when it comes to unmarried parents. If you all live together, it is quite easy especially if he provides more than half of their support (and is the major income provider). The children must live with him more than half the year. See this link Who is a Dependent? http://turbotax.intuit.com/support/iq/About-your-Dependents/Who-Is-A-Dependent-/GEN12426.html Hope that helps. Karen

  46. My sister is 30 and lives with me and has no income and i pay for everything. Can i claim her as a qualifying relative?

  47. I am claiming my mother and brother as my dependents, but my brother got a scholarship. Do I have to add that as my income??

    • Hi JooJoo,
      No you would not add that as income. The scholarship should have gone toward his education.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  48. I have lived with my grandparents all year with no rent, I am 20 yrs old, and a recovering addict with a perscription for it. Can my grandparents claim me as a dependant or relative? If so,How?

  49. The mother of my child was married in the beginning of September last year. To my knowledge she has not worked this year but she and her husband are filing jointly. We share joint custody of our child and the schedule of evenings spent at each other’s residence is split evenly across the board. Would they qualify to claim my child as a dependent seeing that the husband has given support for less than half the year? I have already filed and received my return claiming my child as my dependent. Is there a potential for an audit? Thank you.

  50. Can I claim my 19 year old daughter as a dependent when she is a college student but worked a summer job and now has her own W2 to file?

  51. My wifes parents are coming from another country. It seems that they will be receiving their social security numbers before the tax deadline.

    We’ve been supporting them financially for the entire year.

    I cannot find in any publications or tests that says they have to have been a U.S. resident for the tax year to be claimed as dependent.

    Could we get audited if we claim them as dependents?

  52. I moved into a new apartment with a roommate in April of ’12, and I provided most of their financial support for the rest of the year; am I ineligible to claim them as a dependent because we did not live together for the entire tax year?

  53. Can I claim my sister and her tuition fees if my parents dont claim her but they’re the ones who write the checks for her tuition fees? Or can I just claim my sister and not her tuition fees. Thank you.

  54. Hi, I have a question. Can I claim my sister and her college tuition fees if my parents don’t claim her and even if they wrote the checks for her tuition fees? Or can I claim her and then my parents claim her tuition fees? and what will happen if I claimed her and not the tuition fees? I made close to 21 K last year working part time and her tuition after financial aid was 10 k for a year. Note she also lived on campus last year. Thank you.

  55. Can I claim my grandson? His mother and father are not married and they are not claiming him and I take care of him more then 9 months out of the year.

    • Hi Michelle –
      You may be able to claim him. You did say his parents are not claiming him. There are some rules though. Such as, he must be a US citizen/resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. You didn’t say his age, but he must have no more than $3,800 in gross income…and receive more than half of his support from you.

      Here is a link that explains more detail about dependents that may help. http://turbotax.intuit.com/support/iq/About-your-Dependents/Who-Is-A-Dependent-/GEN12426.html

      Also, the TurboTax software does a great job of determining whether or not someone is your dependent. I’d suggest you go through the Dependent Interview screens and that should help you out too.


    • Hi Sandra,
      You cannot claim the child if her uncle claimed her in the same tax year. Only one person can claim a dependent at a time.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  56. Can you earn too much money to claim your children that are living with you full time as dependents?

  57. My wife and I have been filing married fililng jointly the past 5 years, and both of us were working. We both made our tax exemption to be 1. Starting this May, my wife stopped working. So, my question is, do I now change the tax exemption to 2? Is there something that I do to report that, she only worked half a year?

  58. My mother and I co-owned a home last year together. We had a falling out at the end of the year and went separate ways and are working on selling the house this year. She babysat some, cooked dinner and did homework with one of my daughters, and helped my oldest daughter with a few of her wants, but I do not feel she can state she paid for more then half of their living expenses. We have lived together for 12 years and she has never done this until now. Nothing else has changed about our situation except that she is now angry with me because of our falling out. My question is, I went ahead and filed my taxes be mail and expect the IRS to return and request documentation from both of us. Will they issue my return and then contact us in six months, or will they hold my return until the correct person is shown? I even have two divorce decrees that state I file the children as my dependents. Also, what does the IRS usually ask you to provide to prove you are the correct person claiming them. And one last question, is there any reason that she could legitimately state she was their provider? She lived downstairs and often wanted them to spend time with her, I did work a lot but it was some volunteer work however I provided a babysitter when away for work in the evenings, She worked a full-time job and did often keep groceries at her place for the kids as well, but that was by choice and not by need. I think she got very bad advice but I still do not know what to expect, and was hoping to get my refund soon. I also paid for audit defense before this info became apparent, will they be helping me with this issue? Thanks!

    • Hi Jillian,
      For you, your children would be considered your “qualifying children” if they are under age 19 or under age 24 if full-time students and when your mother tries to claim them they would be considered her “qualifying relatives”. There are differences between the two qualifications when you talk about the support test:
      -“Qualifying Children” – Cannot supply over half of their own support in order for you to claim them.
      -“Qualifying Relatives” – The taxpayer must supply over half of their support in order to be able to claim them.
      The IRS will follow the support test and who they lived with the most, which it sounds like you. In addition, your divorce decree which shows you can claim your children as a dependents, will most likely carry more weight.
      In order to figure out the support test, you would need to add up all of their living expenses: Food, shelter, clothing, etc.- if they did not provide over half of the support, you would meet that test.
      Please see this additional blog for more info:
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis


    • Hi Steven,
      You cannot claim your wife as a dependent, however when you file married filing jointly you will get an exemption of $3,700 for her.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis


    • Hi Michelle,
      If it only shows an amount in box 5 it is showing your daughter received a scholarship or grant, which is why the credit is being taken away.
      I hope this helps you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  61. if my husband did not work for year 2011 and did not get any unemployment can i claim him as a dependent? if so, do i file married separate?

    • Hi Noel,
      You cannot claim a spouse as a dependent, you can, however receive a personal exemption of $3,700 for him if you file married filing jointly.

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  62. Our daughter is 24, still lives at home and is in her final year of school. She does not work. Can we claim her as a dependent on our taxes this year?

    • Hi Sandy,
      You could claim your daughter as a dependent under the guidelines for a “Qualifying Relative” as long as you provided over half of her support and she did not make over $3,700 in TY 2011. She would not be considered as your “Qualifying Child” as she has to be under 24 if she is a full-time student.

      Thank you!
      Lisa Lewis

  63. I was just married July 22, 2011 My husband is retired from the Army and gets a pension and a little bit from disablity, his total about is 1,500.00 a month, Will I beable to claim him as one of my dependants now? he does not work at all.

    • Hello,
      First of all let me apologize. I responded to your comment in September, but we are making enhancements to the blog and some responses did not post.

      Unfortunately, you cannot claim a spouse as a dependent. If you claim married filing jointly, you will get a personal exemption for both of you.

      For more information, please see Publication 501 for more information http://www.irs.gov/publications/p501/ar02.html

      I hope this helps you!

      Thank you,
      Lisa Lewis

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