How to Claim a Dependent: Child & Adult Dependent Rules, Perks

May 25, 2022 | Tags: Bookkeeping

RDPs have the same legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities as married couples unless otherwise specified. For more information on RDPs, go to and search for 737 to find Publication 737, Tax Information for Registered Domestic Partners. The ability to claim a dependent generally makes taxpayers eligible for more credits and deductions, which may include education-related tax credits, such as the American opportunity tax credit and the lifetime learning credit.

Rules For Claiming A Dependent On Your Tax Return

If a person is your qualifying child according to the IRS requirements, then you can claim that person as your dependent. A qualifying child is generally related to you, but they do not have to actually be your child. Outside of your biological son or daughter, this could be a stepchild, grandchild, or a niece/nephew.

Rules and Qualifications for Claiming a Tax Dependent

If you can be claimed as a dependent by another person, you can’t claim anyone else as a dependent. The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Many people provide support to their aging parents. But just because you mail your 78-year-old mother a check every once in a while doesn’t mean you can claim her as a dependent. Here’s a checklist for determining whether your mom (or other relative) qualifies.

Filing incorrectly can cause the IRS to delay processing your tax return, which could mean that you won’t get your refund as soon as you expect. If the child is married, you must be able to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return. You must have a valid Social Security Number when you file your tax return. If you are married and filing jointly with your spouse, your spouse also needs a valid Social Security Number when you file your tax return.

Who Can You Claim as a Tax Dependent?

The child can’t contribute more than half of their own support for the year if they work. Also, the same dependent generally can’t be claimed more than once by different taxpayers, e.g., both you and your sibling can’t claim your parent as a dependent. Make sure to properly include your legal dependents when filing your taxes in order to maximize your refund. You can easily file your taxes in less than 15 minutes online now. These free programs have operated for over 50 years and use IRS certified tax preparers and meet high IRS quality standards. This means you can be assured that you will have an accurate return.

For tax years prior to 2018, every qualified dependent you claimed could reduce your taxable income by up to the exemption amount, equal to $4,050 in 2017. This could add up to substantial savings on your tax bill. If you have a family, you need to know how the IRS defines “dependents” for income tax purposes. Because it could save you thousands of dollars on your taxes. Once you identify someone as a dependent on your tax return, you’re informing the IRS that you met the requirements to claim them as a dependent.


85–866, § 4(a), inserted “(other than an individual who at any time during the taxable year was the spouse, determined without regard to section 153, of the taxpayer)”. (1) to (4) relating to special rule for divorced parents, requirements for divorced parents, definitions of custodial and noncustodial parent, and exception for multiple-support agreements. An individual shall not be treated as a member of the taxpayer’s household if at any time during the taxable year of the taxpayer the relationship between such individual and the taxpayer is in violation of local law. The parent of your qualifying person if your qualifying person also is your child and under age 13. The child or other dependent must have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when the tax return is filed. You can claim any other person who was not able to care for themselves in 2021 if you can claim that person as a dependent on your tax return.

If you are a nonresident alien during any part of the year, you do not qualify for head of household filing status even though you may meet all of the other requirements for the filing status. For more information, go to and search for 519 to find Publication 519, U.S. The IRS recognizes the custodial parent as the one with whom the child spent more than half the nights of the year (183 or more nights). In the case of a disagreement where both taxpayers claim the child, only the custodial parent will be granted the child as a dependent for tax purposes by the IRS. The custodial parent must meet the IRS rules for a qualifying child to claim the tax benefits related to that child. Typically, the person with whom the children live with over half the year will be able to claim the dependents on their tax return.

You may obtain a Social Security number for your child by filling out and filing Social Security Form SS-5. See the Social Security Administration website at for details. It takes about two weeks to get a Social Security number. If you don’t have a required Social Security number by the filing due date, you can file IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

  • If you are unmarried and not an RDP, a wider range of relatives can qualify you for head of household filing status.
  • No matter how long you’ve been with your partner or how much you’re supporting them financially, you can’t claim them as a dependent unless your partner passes the qualifying relative test.
  • 109–135, set out as a note under section 21 of this title.
  • 108–311 reenacted section catchline without change and amended text generally.

We think it’s important for you to understand how we make money. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials. Your dependent must be a U.S. citizen, a national, a resident alien of the U.S., or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

Guide to filing your taxes in 2023

A qualifying relative is a member of your family or a friend who is designated by the IRS as a tax dependent. This means that a taxpayer must provide financial support for that relative or friend for most of the year. The tool is based on the IRS rules for dependents outlined on this page. Once you have determined if you can claim someone as your dependent, start your return for free and enter your income, dependent information, and deductions to save the most money on your taxes. A child whom you legally adopt is always considered your child. If you adopted a child who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or resident alien, they can still qualify as your dependent if they lived with you for the entire year.

  • For more information, go to and search for 519 to find Publication 519, U.S.
  • However, the requirement that the home must have been the person’s main home for more than half the year does not apply if the person was not alive for more than half the year.
  • Given that many people will have more tax liability this filing season, such as with some pandemic-related tax benefits expiring, you might be looking to maximize tax savings by claiming tax dependents.
  • If you use the HOH filing status and are not qualified to do so, you may be subject to additional tax, interest, and any penalties that may apply.
  • You are keeping up your home only if you pay more than half the cost of keeping up the home for the tax year.
  • Generally, only one taxpayer (or married couple filing jointly) may claim any one person as a dependent.

You’ll need to provide the IRS with information about your relationship with this person, the amount of support you provide and other details. This rule doesn’t apply to all tax credits and deductions, however. The right to claim the child can’t be transferred in some cases, such as to claim head of household filing status. The child must actually live with you in order for you to qualify for that status. Claiming dependents can save you a good bit of money at tax time.