Dependent Basics: Who Can I Claim as a Dependent?

Read the Article

You know you can claim exemptions for your children on your tax return when you file. But if you have other family members that you support, you may be able to get exemptions for them as well.  A dependent exemption reduces your taxable income by $3,950 in 2014, so when it comes to exemptions, the more the merrier. Here’s how they can add up.

Your children. To qualify as a dependent child, a child does not need to be your biological child, but they must be related to you in some way, such as your stepchild, adopted child, brother, sister, niece, nephew, etc. And the child has to be under the age of 19, with a few exceptions: if the child is totally disabled there is no age requirement, and if the child was a full-time student for at least five months of the year and is under 24, they qualify as an exemption.

Your child must also live with you more than half the year, unless they live with the other parent or are away at school or temporarily away for some other reason.

There are some other rules as well – the child must be not be self-supporting, must be a US citizen or national, or a resident of the United States, Canada or Mexico, and you must list the child’s social security number on your tax return.

Your relatives. If your parents, other relatives, or even non-relatives are dependent on your support, you may be able to claim a dependency exemption for them, if they pass three tests.

  1. They have to be either a relative or member of your household the entire year if they are a non-relative. Relatives include:
  • your child, adopted child, step child, foster child, or their descendents, such as your grandchild descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild) if they are not considered your “qualifying child”
  • your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister, or their descendents
  • your father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, grandparent, or other ancestor
  • a brother or sister of your father or mother, or
  • your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law, but only while the marriage exists, not after it ends in death or divorce.
  1. The person’s taxable income must be less than $3,950 (this goes up every year).
  2. You must pay for more than half the person’s support during the year, unless the person is supported by several people who all agree in a multiple support agreement that you can claim the exemption.

You don’t need to worry about figuring this all out. TurboTax makes it easy. After asking you a few simple questions about your family, TurboTax will determine for you who qualifies as a dependent on your tax return. That way, you’ll get the biggest tax refund possible with the least amount of hassle.


9 responses to “Dependent Basics: Who Can I Claim as a Dependent?”

    • Hi Theodore,
      Do you want to change your withholding? If so, you can use the TurboTax W-4 withholding calculator and figure out your withholding. The TurboTax withholding calculator also has the updated IRS W-4 form included that you can give to your employer so they know how much to withhold from your paycheck. Here is the link

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  1. My 84 year old mother moved it with us 1/6/15. She gets her monthly SS check of $1,105 and gives me $550 a month to help out. She has a provider that medicaid pays for. Do I claim her. And if I do, will it affect her getting a provider.

  2. My mom and dad are my other dependents but they both live in the Philippines. My mom have cancer and and I have been spending thousands of dollars for her hospitalization. On top of that, my dad have a handful of maintenance medications for stroke. Both of them are senior citizens but not of US, Canada or Mexico.
    I am a single mom with my son here in the US. How can I add my parents as my dependents since half of my monthly earnings goes to them.

  3. The Family part does not cover passing away of the loved one. My wife passed away in the ist week of 2015. For next year what will be my status a Single or a surviving spouse.

  4. My employer transferred me to Utah from NC 10/22/2014 when they started to withhold Utah tax. I will not relocate there until 4/2/2015. Do I check I relocated to Utah in 2014? if not, how do I file for a Utah refund for 2014 taxes paid?

  5. I go through this every year with Turbo Tax. My same-sex partner fills every qualification as my dependent, but Turbo Tax fails to recognize “other” as qualifying me for head of household. You only recognize blood relatives. See this IRS publication and this statement in it: The person either (a) must be related to you … or (b) must live with you all year as a member of your household (and your relationship must not violate local law).

    The last 2 years, Turbo Tax corrected this with updates before the April 15th deadline. If they don’t fix this again this year, I’ll need to purchase other software. Fortunately, Florida law changed and we were married in January 2015, so I won’t need to go through this next year.

Leave a Reply