Can I Carry Someone on My Tax Return if They Owe the IRS?

by Jack Ori ; Updated July 27, 2017

If you provide more than half the support for your children under the age of 19 or for certain other relatives that live with you, you can claim them as dependents on your tax return. You can still claim dependents if your dependent owes money to the Internal Revenue Service, but he must also file a return and pay his taxes.

Dependent Files Return

In some situations, your dependent must file his own taxes even though you are listing him as a dependent. If your dependent owes alternative minimum tax, household employment taxes or Social Security taxes, he must file his own tax return. You can still claim him as a dependent if he lives with you and you provide more than half of his support.

Dependency Rules

Your dependent must make less than $3,650 for the year. If she makes more than this amount, you can't claim her as a dependent, regardless of whether she owes taxes on her income or not. If your dependent is your child under the age of 19, you can claim her as a dependent as long as she lives with you for at least six months out of the year and you provide at least half of her support.

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Minimum Filing Requirement

Regardless of whether your dependent owes any money to the IRS, he must file a tax return if he makes more than $950 for the year. You can file the return on his behalf as part of your return if you claim him as a dependent. If your dependent makes less than $950 for the year, you don't have to file a tax return for him unless you want to get any refund that is due to him.

Consideration

If you are a single parent with dependent children, you may be able to use the head of household filing status instead of filing at the single rate. This allows you to claim a higher standard deduction. You can do this regardless of whether your children owe money on their taxes; as long as they are under the age of 19, you can carry them on your taxes.

About the Author

Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.

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