IRS Guidelines for Claiming a Dependent

by admin on March 28, 2014

Claiming someone as a dependent?

There are 2 types of dependents:  a qualifying child and a qualifying relative. For both types of dependents, the following questions need to be answered:

Are they a citizen or resident?  The person must be a US citizen, national or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. Foreign exchange students do not qualify unless they meet this requirement.

Are you the only person claiming them as a dependent?

Are they filing a joint return?  No claiming someone who is married and files a joint tax return.

For a qualifying child, these questions must also be answered:

Are they related to you?  Son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, sister, brother, stepsibling, adopted child or any child of the aforementioned.

Do they meet the age requirement?  Under 19, or a full-time student under the age of 24.  No age limit if the child is permanently and totally disabled.

Do they live with you?  Several exceptions apply to the following- the child must live with you for more than half the year.

Do you financially support them?

Are you the only person claiming them?  This commonly applies to children of divorced parents, but check IRS Publication 501 to see which rules apply.

For a qualifying relative, these requirements must also be answered:

Do they live with you?  Must live with you all year or be on the list of âہ“relatives who do not live with you” in IRS Publication 501.

Do they make less than $3900.00?  Cannot gross more than $3900 and be claimed by you as a dependent.

Do you financially support them?  You must provide more than half of the total support each year.

Are you the only person claiming them?  The relative cannot be claimed twice…make sure no one else is claiming this relative.


David W Huff, CPA, PFS, MS is a partner at Person Huff CPA Group. He provides clients with tax preparation and consulting services, accounting services, retirement plan and benefit consulting, accounting software technical support and training, and management advisory services. His specialty is helping new businesses organize their operations to maximize tax savings and move quickly from start-up to profitability.  You can reach David by email at:




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