The term “dependent” means:
- A qualifying child, or
- A qualifying relative.
The terms “ qualifying child ” and “qualifying relative ” are defined later.
There are five tests that must be met for a child to be your qualifying child. The five tests are:
- Support, and
- Joint return.
There are four tests that must be met for a person to be your qualifying relative. The four tests are:
- Not a qualifying child test,
- Member of household or relationship test,
- Gross income test, and
- Support test.
Age. Unlike a qualifying child, a qualifying relative can be any age. There is no age test for a qualifying relative.
You can claim an exemption for a qualifying child or qualifying relative only if these three tests are met.
- Dependent taxpayer test.
- Joint return test.
- Citizen or resident test.
These three tests are explained in detail later.
All the requirements for claiming an exemption for a dependent are summarized in Table 5.
Table 5. Overview of the Rules for Claiming an Exemption for a Dependent
Caution. This table is only an overview of the rules. For details, see the rest of this publication.
- 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.1
- You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is your qualifying child or qualifying relative.
|Tests To Be a Qualifying Child||Tests To Be a Qualifying Relative|
If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child. See the Special Rule for Qualifying Child of More Than One Person described later to find out which person is the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.
1 - There is an exception for certain adopted children.
2 - There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, and kidnapped children.
3 - There is an exception if the person is disabled and has income from a sheltered workshop.
4 - There are exceptions for multiple support agreements, children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, and kidnapped children.