When filing taxes, you need to know if you are still considered a dependent. In some cases this is very clear cut — you’re 45 years old, haven’t lived at home since you were 18 and support yourself without help from anyone else.
In other cases, you might not know if you are a qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you have any doubt whatsoever, learn the facts about tax-dependent requirements and tax-dependent age as it relates to being someone’s dependent.
Qualifying Child and Qualifying Dependent
There are two types of people who can be claimed as dependents for tax purposes: A qualifying child and a qualifying dependent. There are two main requirements for whether or not someone is a qualifying child:
- Under the age of 19.
- Under the age of 24 and a full-time student.
However, you can claim older children who are not in college if they qualify as a qualifying dependent. Rules for a qualifying dependent include:
- The person must be a bona fide relative, though foster children and stepchildren count. You can also claim a niece, nephew, sibling or grandchild.
- According to tax dependent requirements, the person must live with you for at least half the year.
- You must provide at least half of the person’s financial support for the year in question.
- The qualifying relative must have an income below certain requirements, in addition to your providing most of their financial support.
- Income requirements vary widely depending on age, disability status, marital status and whether or not the income is earned or unearned. The income thresholds can be as low as $950 and as high as $8,700. Check with IRS Publication 929 to find out where you or your dependents fall.
Claim Dependent Rules
The major rule that you must be aware of if you qualify as someone else’s dependent is that you are not entitled to take the standard deduction for yourself when you file your taxes. That deduction belongs to the person who has been supporting you. Conversely, if you can claim a dependent, you are entitled to an additional standard deduction for the person that you are claiming.
Tax Dependent Requirements
The IRS extensively documents the tax dependent requirements for both dependents and those wishing to claim them. IRS Publication 929 outlines all of the requirements.
Remember that when reporting income for dependents, you must report both earned and unearned income. For claiming dependents on taxes after divorce or while living separately, the parent with custody of the dependent in question gets the entire tax credit, while the other parent gets none. Further, if a divorced parent is remarried, the spouse of the custodial parent is treated as the other parent for tax purposes.
In the event that the parents are not married, but have lived together for the entire year, the parent with the greatest taxable income is entitled to the credit.
Tax Dependents and Your Taxes
Knowing the rules for dependents is very important when you file taxes. You should thoroughly work out where you or your possible dependent falls according to tax dependent requirements. Failure to do so can mean that one or both of you will end up owing the IRS, an unpleasant surprise indeed. Worst of all, the both of you might claim the same deduction and end up being audited by the IRS.