Who can you claim as a dependent?

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Information about dependents. You will not go very far in making your own taxes without facing this question. It is critical to your tax return, since for every dependent who can claim, you can get an exemption, a valuable portion taken directly from the taxable income. (Each taxpayer also gets his own exemption, of course). But who can you legitimately claim as a dependent? We are going to break down the IRS requirements.

First, a dependent is someone you support. And support is the key requirement: it must have provided at least half of the person’s total support during the year: food, shelter, clothing, etc. If your adult daughter, for example, lived with you but provided at least half of your support, you may not be able to claim her as a dependent.

For a quick overview of who you can claim, see our information.

Rules for all dependents
Dependents are usually, but not always, a child or another relative. Eligible children and qualifying family members have their own additional requirements, but all dependents must meet these requirements:

Dependents can have their own tax returns, and even be married, but they should not have filed a joint tax return for the year unless it is just to claim a refund.
Must be US citizens U.S., US Nationals UU Or foreign residents.
They must have a taxpayer identification number. It is usually a social security number, but if the child does not qualify for one, it can be an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN).
Rules to claim children
When you claim a dependent that is a child, there are additional requirements:

The child must have lived with you for at least half of the year.
The child must be related to you as a son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or descendant of any of them.
The child must be 18 or younger at the end of the year or less than 24 if a student. To be a student, the child must have attended school full-time for at least five months of the year. The five months do not have to be in a row.
The child must be younger than you (or your spouse, if you are married filing a joint return), unless the child is disabled.
Rules for claiming other relatives and unrelated persons
For a parent or other relative, there are different additional requirements:

The person can not have a gross annual income of more than $ 4,050. (That’s the amount of the returns for 2017, it usually changes every year). The person can not be a qualifying child who depends on you or another person. That means you can not claim the person if someone else could. The person must be related to you or must have lived with you throughout the year as a member of your household.

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