Who Can I Claim as a Dependent?
Most of us are aware we can claim our minor children as dependents on our tax returns but this is not automatic, particularly among divorced couples. Some parents may not be aware they can claim their college-aged or newlywed children on their tax returns so it’s important to make sure you understand the rules for claiming someone as a dependent.
Claiming Dependents on Tax Returns
The rules that apply to dependents may seem confusing but they are relatively straightforward. Here are some of the typical categories of dependents and how you can determine if you may claim them.
- Claiming a minor child – a child who is defined as a son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a decedent of one of these may be claimed as a dependent if all criteria are met. The additional requirements include the child living with you for at least six months of the year and be younger than 18 or younger than 24 if they attended school for a minimum of five months. The child must have also depended on you for 50 percent of their support; this is typically something divorced or parents who live separately must determine since only one parent may claim the child.
- Claiming an adult child – many people are unaware they may claim newly married children on their tax returns. The year a couple is married, they may have insufficient income to be required to file a return. However, in these instances, they may file to claim a refund. You should discuss this matter with a qualified tax preparer to determine if it is possible to claim an adult child in the year they were married. Bear in mind, an adult child with a disability who depends on the parent for their sole support are generally allowed to be claimed as dependents.
- Claiming a dependent parent or adult relative – those who have a parent or other adult relative living in their home during the full tax year may be able to claim them as a dependent. The primary criteria is the adult must have had less than $4,050 in income during the 2016 tax year. You must have contributed at least one-half of their living expenses during the year.
Tax laws are confusing and limits on income made by children or other potential dependents may impact your ability to claim them on your taxes. Keep in mind, every dependent must also be a U.S. citizen and have their own social security number.
Rather than try to navigate your tax return on your own, contact Rue & Associates for help. Not only can we help you with your individual tax return, we also help business owners navigate the process of filing business taxes. We have a staff of experienced tax professionals and Enrolled Agents who can help ensure you get the maximum tax refund available to you and that you are claiming each eligible dependent on your tax return.