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Qualifying Relative as Tax Dependent?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's nearly tax season. That means you should be in the midst of pulling all your documents together. One thing you may be wondering about is what the rules are with regards to qualifying relatives as tax dependents.

Most Americans are familiar with general tax rules. One regulation allows for parents to claim their children as dependents on their tax return. This gives them an exemption. And it lightens their tax bill.

So do you have a relative living at home? It may mean you could claim them as your dependent. But in order to be a qualifying relative, they must meet four tests:

1. The qualifying relative cannot be someone else's qualifying child.

A child can only be claimed once. So if the child in question is someone else's qualifying child, they cannot be your qualifying relative. For example, assume you have a son who lives with your parents. Your son is your parents' qualifying child. This means he cannot be your qualifying relative.

In order to be a qualifying relative, the individual must either live with you or is related to you in a way that is acceptable by the IRS. Examples of relatives that do not need to live with you to qualify include your child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, half-sibling, parents, and others. Check the IRS website for a more detailed listing.

3. The qualifying individual must meet the gross income test.

The relative in question must have a gross income for the year of less than $3,700.

4. You must support the relative.

You must have provided more than half of the individual's financial support during the past year.

If you have questions about whether or not your qualifying relative can in fact qualify as your tax dependent, consult a tax preparer or attorney.

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