Can I Claim My Son As a Dependent on My Taxes?

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The Internal Revenue Service provides taxpayers with a tax benefit for maintaining a home and financially supporting others through dependent exemptions. Unlike other deductions that are calculated based on actual costs incurred, the tax benefit provided to taxpayers with dependents is applied uniformly based on the number of qualifying individuals.


The IRS allows taxpayers to claim another person as a dependent if one of the specified relationships exists. The most common type of relationship is that of a parent and child. In addition to blood relationships, you can also claim a foster child or a stepchild as a dependent.


To claim a son as a dependent, he must be under the age of 19 each year you claim him on a tax return. The age limitation is extended to 24 years if he is a full-time student for at least five calendar months during the tax year. For purposes of claiming dependents, the IRS defines a student as an individual studying at postsecondary institutions or technical, trade and mechanical schools. A son enrolled in a correspondence course or online college does not meet this requirement.

Financial Support

Eligibility to claim a son as a dependent requires that he not provide more than half his own financial support throughout the year and does not file a tax return in which he claims an exemption for himself. Scholarships and grants received by a student are not considered payments of support.


To claim a child as a dependent, she must live with you for more than half the tax year. The dependent is deemed living with you when you are temporarily away from home because of illness, education, business, vacation or military service.

Noncustodial Parent

A noncustodial parent may be eligible to claim a son as a dependent even though the residency requirement cannot be met. To claim the dependent, the noncustodial parent must make child support payments to the custodial parent. The custodial parent must agree in writing to not also claim the child as a dependent. The noncustodial parent must attach a copy of the release to each tax return.

Tax Benefits

The ability to claim a son as a dependent has multiple tax benefits. Claiming a dependent allows a taxpayer to take advantage of filing statuses that result in reduced rates of tax applied to income. Additionally, you are entitled to take an exemption for each dependent. The exemption reduces taxable income by an amount determined by the IRS each year. A parent that meets the requirements to claim a child as a dependent may also be eligible for the child tax credit. The tax credit provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax owed.


About the Author

Jeff Franco's professional writing career began in 2010. With expertise in federal taxation, law and accounting, he has published articles in various online publications. Franco holds a Master of Business Administration in accounting and a Master of Science in taxation from Fordham University. He also holds a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.

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