Teens & Taxes: Can I Declare My Teenager as a Dependent If They Have a Gig Job?

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The gig economy is growing and even teens are getting in on the freelance action. From tutoring to graphic design, teens can find gig work galore to help pave the way toward a secure financial future. Without being tied to a time clock, teenagers can earn extra money to cover everyday expenses, pay for food and entertainment, or save for college by working side jobs — or gigs.

But when tax day rolls around, parents may have some questions about their teen’s status if they brought in money as a 1099 independent contractor.

Fortunately, just as you can still declare your teen as a dependent on your taxes if they worked in 2021 as a W-2 employee — as long as they meet other conditions — you can also declare your teen as a dependent if they earned money working as a freelancer.

You can declare your teenager as a dependent on your federal income tax returns if your teen:

  • Is under 19 years old, or under 24 and a full-time student.
  • Cannot declare anyone else as a dependent on their taxes.
  • Relies on you for more than 50% of their total living expenses.
Make Your Money Work For You

If your teen has earned side gig income totaling more than $400 net, they will need to pay self-employment taxes. If they received any 1099-NEC forms for their side gigs or freelance work, they will need to file their own tax returns for 2021. But that doesn’t change their status as a dependent on your taxes, or your ability to claim the fully refundable child tax credit for them, which depends on your net income.

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