Monday, March 7, 2011

Can I claim my child as a dependent?

To claim someone as a dependent that person must either be your qualifying child or qualifying relative.

To be a qualifying child:
  1. The child must be related to you.
  2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year, (b) under age 24 at the end of the year and a full-time student, (c) any age permanently and totally disabled.

    A child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply.
    • He or she cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition.
    • A doctor determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can lead to death
  3. Child must live with you more than six months.

    The exception to this rule is a noncustodial parent claiming an exemption for a child when the custodial parent releases claim to the exemption via Form 8332 or similar statement signed by the custodial parent. Please note: a noncustodial parent can no longer attach certain pages from a divorce decree or separation agreement instead of Form 8332 if the decree or separation agreement was executed after 2008.
  4. The child must not have provided more than half of his/her own support.
  5. If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, you must be the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.
To be a qualifying relative:
  1. The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
  2. The relative must be related to you or they must live with you all year long.
  3. The person's gross income for the year must be less than $3,650 for tax year 2010.
  4. Taxpayer must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year.
In addition,
  • You cannot claim any dependents if you, or your spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
  • You cannot claim a married person who files a joint return as a dependent unless that joint return is only a claim for refund and there would be no tax liability for either spouse on separate returns.
  • You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico, for some part of the year.
If the child is under age 24 and a full-time student (at least five months out of the year), he/she meets the age test for a qualifying child. Temporary absences due to education, illness, business, is deemed to meet the residency test.

If you claim an exemption for child, he/she cannot claim his/her own exemption on his/her own tax return. Even if the taxpayer does not claim the dependent's exemption on their return, the dependent is still unable to claim their exemption on their own tax return.

For more information, refer to IRS Publication 501.

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