Tax FAQ Series: Who Qualifies As A Dependent?

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First, you should be aware that in 2018 the laws associated with dependents and related deductions changed significantly so the overall system of exemptions is different from 2018 forward. Understanding that, the general rules for dependents are as follows:

A dependent is a person other than the taxpayer or spouse who entitles the taxpayer to claim a dependency exemption (under prior law).

Under prior law, each dependency exemption decreases income subject to tax by the exemption amount. A taxpayer cannot claim a dependency exemption for a person who can be claimed as a dependent on another tax return. The term “dependent” means a “qualifying child” or a “qualifying relative.”

  1. To claim a dependency exemption for a qualifying child, ALL of the qualifying child dependency tests must be met:
  • Dependent Taxpayer Test
  • Joint Return Test
  • Citizen or Resident Test
  • Relationship Test
  • Age Test
  • Residency Test
  • Support Test
  1. To claim a dependency exemption for a qualifying relative, the person must meet the following tests:
  • Dependent Taxpayer Test
  • Joint Return Test
  • Citizen or Resident Test
  • Not a Qualifying Child Test
  • Member of Household or Relationship Test
  • Gross Income Test
  • Support Test

These tests can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p503

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