Who Can I Claim As a Dependent?

Family Who Can I Claim As a Dependent?

The article below is accurate for your 2018 taxes, the one that you file this year by the April 2019 deadline. 

Under tax reform, you can no longer claim the dependent exemption, which was $4,050 for tax year 2017, but you still need to know who qualifies as your dependent for other tax benefits like the Child Tax Credit up to $2,000 or the new $500 tax credit for dependents who aren’t your children.

The question “Who can I claim as my dependent?” has remained a confusing topic for many taxpayers and an area where tax deductions are often missed or misstated on tax returns.

Did you know you may be able to claim your couch potato friend as a dependent? Did you realize that support of your struggling aunt who didn’t live with you may qualify you for the dependency deduction? Don’t feel bad, you would be surprised how many people scratch their heads about dependency tax laws.

The bottom line is a dependent must be your “qualifying child” or “qualifying relative” and meet specific tests in order for you to claim them. The 5 tests that will qualify a child as a dependent are:

  • Relationship: Must be your child, adopted child, foster-child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (grand or nephew).
  • Residence: Must have the same residence for more than half the year.
  • Age: Must be under age 19 or under 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months. They can be any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.
  • Support: Must not have provided more than half of their own support during the year.
  • Joint Support: The child cannot file a joint return for the year.

The 4 tests that will qualify a relative as a dependent are:

  • Qualifying Child: They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer or your “qualifying child.”
  • Gross Income: The dependent being claimed earns less than $4,150 in 2018.
  • Total Support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
  • Member of Household or Relationship: The person (a friend, girlfriend, non-blood relative) must live with you all year as a member of your household or be related to you.

Many taxpayers are surprised to find they may be able to claim a boyfriend, girlfriend, domestic partner, or friend as a qualifying relative if:

  • They are a member of your household the entire year.
  • The relationship between you and the dependent does not violate the law, for example, you can not still be married to someone else. (Also, check your individual state law, as some states do not allow you to claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent even if your relationship doesn’t violate the law).
  • You meet all the other criteria for “qualifying relatives” (gross income and support).

Here are some common questions from our users we have answered for you here:

Question: My 26-year-old is living with me. He works and has made more than $4,150. Can I claim him as a dependent?

Answer: No, because your child would not meet the age test, which says your “qualifying child” must be under age 19 or 24 if a full-time student for a least 5 months out of the year.  To be considered a “qualifying relative”,  his income must be less than $4,150 in 2018.

Question: I start work in September of this year and had my baby in March. Can I claim my baby as a dependent on my taxes?

Answer: Yes, even if you have a baby on December 31, you can claim them as a dependent on your taxes.

Question: My boyfriend fully supports me. We live with his mother, but my boyfriend pays our full support including rent. His mother wants to claim us as dependents. Who can claim the deduction?

Answer: As long as your boyfriend is not married (be sure to check your individual state law regarding claiming a boyfriend or girlfriend some states don’t comply with the federal law), supplies over half of your support, you lived with him the entire year, and you did not earn more than $4,150, you would qualify as his dependent. His mother could not claim you since she did not provide more than half of the support.

Question: My spouse has not worked all year except for a month, can I claim him as a dependent?

Answer: You cannot claim a spouse as a dependent. However, if you file married filing jointly, you may have more tax benefits.

Now that you are armed with more knowledge about dependent tax laws, you may find that your friend crashing on your couch may help you get a larger tax refund.

Don’t worry about remembering these rules come tax time. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers. If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. The TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can even review, sign, and file your tax return.

Comments (993) Leave your comment

  1. My name is Sandra Martinez I live in Lajunta co. I want to file for a rent rebate or any kind of rebate or refund I can get I’ve been applying every year for year’s.and they send me a letter saying that I owe for something.and i never get a refund.im on . Thanks for your time.hope you can help.

  2. My female friend lives with me, and has a two year old daughter. My friend works, but did not claim her child on her taxes. Am I able to claim the child? The child is too young to be in school, her shot records, and tax info (did a modeling gig, made $200) are to my address (as she lives with me/I am head of household). Am I able to claim my friends child (who I care for and live with)?

  3. My 44-year-old daughter and 12-year-old granddaughter lived with me last year. My daughter lost her job in December. From December 2017 to August 2018, I paid rent ($2000 monthly), electric, water, trash, cable TV by myself. I also bought groceries. I am uncertain if I am able to claim them as dependents.

    1. Hi Sha,
      Your grand children would be considered qualifying relatives for tax purposes. Here are the requirements:
      A qualifying child must satisfy 5 requirements:
      1. The qualifying child must satisfy the relationship requirement, by being 1 of the following:
      son or daughter, either as a natural child or stepchild, or a descendant thereof;
      sibling, stepsibling, or a descendant thereof;
      foster or adopted child.
      2. The individual must, by the end of the calendar year, be younger than 19 or younger than 24 if a full-time student. There is no age limitation for a permanently disabled child.
      3. Dependents must have the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than ½ of the year. This residency requirement excludes temporary absences such as for illness, school, vacation, or military service where the child has every intention of returning.
      4. The claimed dependent must not have provided more than ½ of their own support during the year, even if they were able to. However, income from scholarships is not considered support.
      5. Only 1 dependent can be claimed by 1 person, so if more than 1 taxpayer can claim a dependent, then it must be decided who will claim the exemption.

      Thanks

  4. I have a daughter who is a full time student, lives with and has a part time job which she made 17K can I still claim her as my dependent? Or does she have to file her own taxes even though I support her.

  5. Hi I have a daughter who is a full time student, lived with me but had a partime job and made 17,000 can I claim her as my dependent?

  6. I am going to be 30 on February 15. I had a baby in October. I have not worked in a year and a half and my mom supports both me and my 4month old daughter. Can she claim either one or both of us? My friend said that if my mom claims my daughter, that I can’t claim her next year when I’m working or my mom will have to pay back what she got for her this year. Is this true?

  7. I am 70 yrs old…separated…living with my 47 yr old permanently disabled daughter ..I moved in with her in June of 18….she makes 900 disability ..I make 700 ss and 300 retirement…plus have 15500. In work related taxable income for the year..i pay power ..tv.. and her student loan which I am cosigner for…my mailing address is different from hers…can I claim head of household?

  8. My spouse and I are filing jointly married and my 17 year old daughter earned over $5000.00 from a part time job. Can we claim her and do we need to add her income to our taxes?

  9. Can I claim my 17 year son who made $10,000 from a job. He is still in high school and I have provided more than half his support. He has lived with me for all of 2018.

  10. My son is 17 and lives with me and is a full time high school student. I have provided more than half of his living expenses. He has a job and has made 10,300 for 2018. Can I still claim him as a dependent?

  11. My husband walked out on us in may, can i file separately and head of household since our daughter is a full time student and turned 18 in dec? And has lived with me.

  12. So I’m pretty sure I do not qualify but want to know for sure I am 32 years old I live with my sister and her family but I am a disabled veteran not 100% and have not worked can they claim me as a dependent?

  13. Good afternoon. My Fiance and I have had his cousins wife and children staying with us throughout 2018 off and on due to relationship difficulties. This was only supposed to be a temporary arrangment however struggles persisted longer than anticipated and there stay ensued. Although she has assisted with food because she receives SNAP benifits we have greatly assisted in other areas costing us out of pocket. Most Importantly, would I be able to claim any of her children on my taxes without it affecting any of the government assistance she recieves? Neither her nor her husband have worked inorder to file. Extending a helping hand to family is not a problem, it’s just cost us alot more than anticipated. Your response is appreciated. Thank you!

  14. My granddaughter and her baby lived with us for eight months last year. She moved in October and and started a part time job the next month. Who can claim them?

  15. In process of getting divorce, signed my papers on they end of 11/2018. Divorce not finalized as of today. Should I still filed as married filing separate, head of household? I have a child that is 19 works part time made 12,000.00 on 2018 was full-time college students can I still claim her as dependent? Can she filed her own taxes too?

  16. Good morning,
    I would like to know if I could claim my mother on my 2018 taxes? She receives SSI and has her own place but lived with me for about 6 months last year due to being sick and having spinal surgery.. She still pays her own bill for her home but I pay for everything at my home and provide everything for her while she is with me.

  17. My husband and I are currently taking care of oir 19 year old son who is not enrolled in college but has recently been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and unable to care for himself financially. He is incapable of providing for himself financially because he is non compliant with taking medication.

    Thank you for any informatuon you can provide.

  18. If I have been in prison most of last year but came home and was working the last few months out of the year can I claim my children as dependents on my tax return?

  19. my 21 year old son had a vehicle accident in august which went I took fml from work to care for him 24/7. he had earned wages of 9880.00 for the year 2018 can I claim him on my taxes as a dependent where I supported him?

  20. My son is 20 years old, He has been living with me since June of 2018. Before that he lived with his grandfather. My son has earned over 6000,00 in 2018. His Grandfather wants to claim him on his taxes, but my son want to claim him self on his own taxes. What are the rules

  21. My son has autism and was in the hospital and then an rtf until August 2018. Can I claim him as a dependant for this year? In August he moved into a group home.

  22. My mother is disabled but she has reached the age where her SSD has turned into regular ssi. She lives with me and I provide for her. Can I claim her as a dependent on my taxes and under what does she qualify? She’s disabled and the only income she has is SSI.

  23. I’m a 32 year old, single mother, living at my parents house rent free, can I claim my son and still be considered as a head of household since my parents don’t claim me or my son on their taxes?

  24. I lived with my fiance last year. I get full disability. I have past due student loans. If he claims me as a dependent will they take his refund for my student loans?

    1. Can I ask you a question maybe you can help me as well . Are you disabled get disability and go to school.Do you know anyone who works part time and gets their disability

  25. Can I claim my 51 year old uncle on my 2018 taxes. He lived with me the entire year of 2018 and he had no income. Also can I then be able to claim head of household.

  26. Hi on October I got my two brothers living with me I’m there gaurdian and I put them as dependents at work I also have two kids but those are my husbands dependents and we file our taxes together. My question is how do I file my brothers in my taxes? Me by myself and them or file with my husband

  27. My son draws SSI and is my dependent he is 22 can I claim him. Also my daughter is 22 she has worked part of the year can I claim her as a dependent. They both live with me full time. I pay for more than half of their expenses.

  28. My daughter is 22 and got married to a foreign national this summer. We are paying for her living expenses and college education. Her husband does not have work authorization for the US so he is not working. I signed a form for Immigration that I will support him at 125% of the federal poverty level for upto 10 years if he’s not employed.

    Can I claim my daughter’s husband as my dependent?

  29. I am 31 years old, with income of $12500 and I and my 8 year son lived with my Mother all year, my mother provided more than half the support for my son, Can I claim my son as dependent for tax purposes?

  30. I’m 25 years old I stay with my mother who is disabled she gets social security check I support her with food and housing expenses her income is below 4,050 can I claim her as a dependent?????

  31. My daughter got devorsed and had no where to go and moved ln.She has been here for over a year. She has worked but not over the limit. Can I claim her ?

  32. So my roommate who has been living with me for over two years can claim me? She is also my power of attorney because I am disabled

  33. Oh, let me add please to the post I just posted regarding my 88 year old father. Just wondering for clarification, is providing over half the support financial support or does that also cover physical, mental, emotional and proving all transportation? Th banks Lisa

  34. I have kept my 88 year old father for 2.5 years at my house at 100% at my expense plus s 24/7 care. He has SS which I realize does NOT count towards “income” to qualify for me to claim him on my tax return. However, he has investments which he of course makes money on. Is his investment money counted as INCOME for him? He does not work. What exactly does and does NOT qualify as INCOME?

  35. My daughter is 38 lives at home. She has applied for ssd. Because she can’t work because of her disability. She hasn’t been approved yet. Is she eligible for disability credit

      1. Hi Sherri,

        You can claim her as dependent if she meets either the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, is a US citizen or resident, you are the only person claiming her as a dependent, and she is not married and files a joint tax return. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about your family and will determine for you who qualifies as a dependent on your tax return. Here is more information relating to dependents: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/family/rules-for-claiming-a-dependent-on-your-tax-return/L8LODbx94.

        Thank you
        TurboTax Brittany

  36. Lisa, my 26 year old son who is full time student, I will claim him as a dependent, can he file a tax return for tax he paid for 3,873. Dollars he earned

    1. My. Grandson lived with me on and off for years, but lived with me consistsntly in 2018. He graduated high school and started college in the summer for 3 months. When he got out of school in Sept 2018, he moved back in with me. He started work and we are waiting for his w-2. I have paid all his bills, his phone, car insurance and yes, gave him my other vehicle.. I just found out his mother is trying to claim him. I have tried to explain to him she is committing fraud. I have let her get away with this in the past, but no longer.. I Want to know if I claim him and she does as well, what will happen. If he makes over $4,000 can I still claim him?

    2. NO , the gross income test is not met .. she made 14000 dollars thus, she has to file her own return
      However if her income was less than $4150 you definitely could claim her as a dependent..

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