Claiming someone as your dependent may
significantly reduce the tax liability on your federal tax return. You may be
entitled to a $3,950 exemption per dependent and a Child Tax Credit of up to
$1,000 per qualifying child under age 17. Claiming someone as a dependent may
also affect your filing status. You may qualify for the Head of Household filing
status or the Qualifying Widow(er) filing status if you have a dependent.
Additionally, if you pay educational expenses for this person, claiming the
person as a dependent may allow you take advantage of education credits, the
tuition and fees deduction, or the student loan interest deduction. A dependent
does not have to be your child. Dependents can include others who are either
related to you, such as a parent, or who have lived with you during the entire
year as a member of your household.
To claim a dependent you must not be
able to be claimed as a dependent by any other taxpayer. In addition, you
generally cannot claim an exemption on a dependent who is married if they file a
joint return. You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a
U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
for some part of the year. To be a dependent, the person must be your qualifying
child or qualifying relative.
A child is your
qualifying child for dependency if all six of the following tests are
- Relationship Test - Your qualifying child must be your:
- Child (son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child, or eligible foster
child) or descendant (for example, grandchild or great
- Sibling, half sibling, step-sibling, or descendant (for
example, nephew or niece)
- Age Test - Your qualifying child
must be younger than you and under age 19, a full-time student under age 24, or
any age if permanently and totally disabled.
- Residency Test - Your
qualifying child must have the same main home as you for more than half the
year. Special rules may apply for kidnapped children and for temporary absences
due to special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, and
- Support Test - Your qualifying child must not provide
more than half of their own support. For full-time students, amounts received
for scholarships at an educational organization are not considered amounts paid
If a child is the qualifying child for you and another
person, you will need to decide who will claim that child as a dependent. If
both of you claim the same child, the IRS will use the following tie-breaker
rule to determine who can claim the child:
- If only one of you is the
child's parent, the parent can claim the child.
- If both of you are the
child's parents and you do not file a joint return together:
parent with whom the child lived the longest period of time during the year can
claim the child.
- If the child lived with both parents the same amount of
time, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income can claim the
- If neither of you are the child's parent and the child is a qualifying child for both, the individual with the highest adjusted gross income may claim the child.
If a person does not meet the tests
for being a qualifying child, they may qualify as your dependent under the
qualifying relative tests.
relatives can include children who do not meet the qualifying child Age Test,
other relatives (for example, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and
in-laws), and unrelated members of the household. Dependents under the
qualifying relative status do not qualify the taxpayer for the EIC or child tax
A person is your qualifying relative if all of the following
tests are met:
- Not a Qualifying Child Test - Your qualifying relative
must not be a qualifying child for any taxpayer.
- Note: An exception to
this rule is when the other taxpayer for whom the child is a qualifying child is
not required to, and does not, file a tax return. For example, Amanda and her
son, Travis, live with Jeremy all year. Amanda worked during the holiday and
earned $3,800. Amanda does not file a tax return because she is not required to
so Jeremy can claim Travis as a qualifying relative. Jeremy is unable to claim
the Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, or the Earned Income Credit
- Member of Household or Relationship Test - Your qualifying
relative must either live with you for the entire year as a member of your
household (but the relationship cannot violate local law) or be related to you
in one of the following ways:
- Child (son, daughter, or adopted
child), or descendant (for example, grandchild or great
- Sibling, half sibling, or
- Parent or direct ancestor (for example, grandparent or
- Stepfather or stepmother
- Uncle or
- Nephew or niece
- Father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law,
daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
Special rules may apply for
kidnapped children and for temporary absences due to special circumstances such
as illness, education, business, vacation, and military service.
- Gross Income Test - Your qualifying
relative cannot have a gross income in excess of the dependent exemption amount
for the year.
- Support Test - Generally, you must provide more than half
of your qualifying relative's total support. Special rules may apply when more
than one person is providing support for an individual or for children of
divorced or separated parents.
Contact your neighborhood Jackson
Hewitt office for more information or assistance. Use the Office Locator
available on this Web site or call 1-800-234-1040 to find the Jackson Hewitt
location most convenient to you.