Who Can I Claim as a Dependent on My Income Taxes?

by Sherrie Scott ; Updated July 27, 2017
You can claim your children as dependents on your income tax return.

Tax season often causes stress and anxiety for many taxpayers with dependents. Knowing who to claim and how long you can claim someone as a dependent can be confusing. Taxpayers who are unsure about who they can claim as a dependent on their income taxes should consult with a tax professional to ensure their taxes are filed accurately.

Basics

When you file your income taxes, you are allowed certain exemptions to reduce your overall taxable income. Exemptions are allowed for each of your dependents. A dependent is a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. Your spouse is never considered a dependent. In some cases, someone else may be able to claim you as a dependent on their return but you may still be required to file your own tax return if you have eligible taxable income.

Children

You can claim a qualifying child as a dependent on your income tax return. To claim a child as a dependent, certain conditions must be met. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child or a descendant of any of them. Also, the child must have lived with you for at least half the year and be younger than age 19. Those under age 24 can be claimed on your income taxes if they are full-time students.

You cannot claim a child as a dependent if you can be claimed on someone else's tax return; you cannot claim a married child who files a joint return; and you cannot claim a child who is not a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or resident of Canada or Mexico.

Relatives

You can claim a qualifying relative as a dependent on your income tax return. Qualifying relatives can be any age as long as they meet other IRS requirements. Qualifying relatives must live with you all year. If they do not live with you, they must receive more than half their support from you to qualify as a dependent on your income tax return. Further, the relative's gross income must be less than $3,650 to qualify as a dependent.

Personal Exemptions

In addition to claiming dependents on your income tax return, you are allowed to take one exemption for yourself. Although you cannot claim your spouse as a dependent on your return, you are still allowed one exemption for your spouse as well. A personal exemption for yourself is allowed only if you cannot be claimed on someone else's tax return.

About the Author

Sherrie Scott is a freelance writer in Las Vegas with articles appearing on various websites. She studied political science at Arizona State University and her education has inspired her to write with integrity and seek precision in all that she does.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images