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

Tax Tips

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 (199) Leave your comment

    1. Hi Katelyn,
      Yes, even if she was born on December 31 she could still qualify. Make sure you have her social security number when you file your taxes. You have to include her social security number to claim her and get valuable tax deductions and credits for her.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  1. My kids father and I are have not been together for 14 months, 11 of which the children spent with me. We do not have a custody agreement, but he has helped with money for the children. He has not helped in 6 months. He wants to claim one of our two boys. Can he legally claim one considering I had them 70% of the year? I have documents to show that they went to daycare and I had them.

  2. If I support myself fully but my mother pays for dental and medical is she allowed to still claim me as a dependent. I am a college student and my scholarships pay for tuition.

  3. Can I claim my daughter she is on ssi an has a 3 year so she is 43 I am there payee an take care of them .,I am retired an am 67 . I don’t work an only take in $1400 a month, would like some info please thxs

  4. Can I claim my mom as my dependent if she lives with me and doesn’t work but made $1300 for babysitting for part of the year?

  5. I just want to ask. Ok am disable and live with my daughter and her family for the past 5 years can they claim me on their taxes

  6. Hi I reside with my daughter. I made less than $2000 last year. Can my daughter claim me? Do I still file as I received a w2? Thank you

  7. I’m 42 in school and work full time I made 20,000 for the yr , I also have a 18 yr old STILL in high school will I get back more than 1200$ , and me and my husband are filing separately or should we file jointly

  8. My boyfriend only worked a couple months due to stroke spots this year could i claim him as a dependent if he only worked for a couple months and mad a little over 4,000

  9. Hi,
    I have a disabled son, 41 years old. He doesn’t work but collects SS disability. He lives with his mother but she doesn’t work either, she’s on SS. She doesn’t claim him on her taxes. I pay all his medical and dental bills, buy his clothes, and give him $500 per month. Can I claim him as a dependent?

  10. Can i add my sister to taxes if I provided for her from Jan 2015- sept 2015, if she is doing taxes for only working from oct 2015-Dec 2015.

  11. My daughter is 17. She receives dependent benefits from her fathers disability and she’s worked part time since May 2015. Do I need to file her income from working?

  12. Hi both of my daughters lived with me from Jan 1st until July then with there mother the rest of the year do I get to claim one or both of them?

  13. I’m a widow of 7 years. I have a disabled daughter who lives with me and I care for. We both receive social security combined income of 2,400 a month. I have claimed my daughter for 28 years. Last year by claiming her, I lost both our Medicaid insurance because the Obama health care counts social security as income. This year I have state Medicaid insurance, but I’m not claiming my daughter. Is this correct?

  14. Can I claim my wife and her son for the whole year if we were married on Dec 28 2015.They received state aid for food throughout the year?

  15. Son does not have job (legitimately) is 48 has no disabilities, has always lived with mother
    Who is 69 and in poor health. Can she claim him?

  16. I turned 18 in July 2015 and have lived with my boyfriend since 2014. My dad told me that since he payed child support on me until I turned 18 that my boyfriend could not claim me. I was hoping that he could seeing as how we have a 5 almost 6 month old daughter and are in need of a family home. Can he claim me or does my dad claim me?

  17. We were awarded permanent legal custody of our nieces and nephews from foster care in Aug 2015. Are we able to claim them for the entire year as we have permanent custody or for the 5 months after the court order was issued (literally 34 days shy of 6 months).

  18. How can I claim my son if he is with CPS. None of the foster parents took care of him for more than 6 months, and I provided child support thru the whole year. Yes, he did not live with me last year. I still have 40% of the custody , and since CPS is a governmental agency and does not pay taxes. I thought there was a way to claim him. I wonder if the 8332 form is needed or I can just claim him. Thanks

  19. If I am forced to divorce my wife who is permanently disabled due to a traumatic brain injury because the State will not provide sufficient assistance, but I still provide care for her at our home 24/7, including paying for all in home nursing care, and all other needs, how will that effect my taxes and what do I claim?

  20. Ok, so I found out in march via a paternity test, that I have a biological daughter to my Ex-girlfriend. Following that, she ended up taking me to court for child support. In June, I started making child support payments via my paycheck. The back support has been set, I make regular payments from my paychecks. My daughter does not live with me, nor do I get to see her at all. With all that in mind, am I still able to claim a dependent on my taxes this year? Do I have to claim my child support payments on my taxes? Any info regarding child support and my taxes would help as this is the first tax year that Ive been paying anything

  21. I am wondering if my boyfriend can claim me as a dependent? I attended graduate school all this year and made less than 3,950. We live together however my legal address is not the same as his.

  22. Hello my daughter is 18 and is a senior in high school, she worked this year and earned 5000.00. Can I still claim her on my income tax as a dependent?

  23. I have a daughter who turned 24 on December 29th. She meets all of the six requirements for a dependant child except the age. She graduated mid May as a full time student from college. She made about $ 15k over the tax year. Can we still claim her as a dependant?

    1. Hi Pat,
      Unfortunately since your daughter turned 24 in 2014 she could only be considered a “qualifying relative” so you could not claim her since she made over $3,950. Income does not come into play for a “qualifying child”, but they have to be under 19 or under 24 if a full time student.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  24. Can I claim my daughter she is disabled and lives with me all year round and still goes to school but turned 18 on 02/19/2015

  25. I just turned 24 on January 21st, 2015. For my taxes this year can my mom still claim me or no? I am in college full time but I didn’t know if I was too old. Thanks!

    1. Hi Alex,
      If you were a student last year and you didn’t provide over half of your support then she can claim you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi,
      If you provided over half of her support and she didn’t make over $3,950 in taxable income.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

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