Remember that a dependent is a person other than the taxpayer who entitles the taxpayer to claim a dependency exemption.
The term "dependent" means a "qualifying child" or a "qualifying relative."
One exemption is allowed for each person claimed as a dependent. To claim a dependency exemption for a qualifying child or a qualifying relative, these three tests must be met:
- Dependent Taxpayer Test
- Joint Return Test
- Citizen or Resident Test
Review Module 4 tax tutorial for the definition of a qualifying child. To be a qualifying child or a qualifying relative the following test must also be met.
Tests To Be a Qualifying Child
- The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
- The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) a full-time student under age 24 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
- The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.1
- The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
- 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.
Tests To Be a Qualifying Relative
- The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of anyone else.
- The person either (a) must be related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you, or (b) must live with you all year as a member of your household.1
- The person's gross income for the year must be less than $3,950.2
- You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year.3
1There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, children of divorced or separated parents, and kidnapped children.
2There is an exception if the person is disabled and has income from a sheltered workshop.
3There is an exception for multiple support agreements, divorced, separated, or never married parents.