One of the biggest questions people have when it comes to doing their taxes is, “who can I write off as a dependent and how do I do it?”
WHO QUALIFIES AS A DEPENDENT?
First, to write someone off on your taxes, they need to be a qualified dependent.
A dependent is someone for whom you provide at least half of their financial support during the year—for household expenses, medical care, education, clothing, and the like.
Each dependent can only be written off by one person each tax year.
To qualify as a dependent, the person must meet four requirements:
1. Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
2. Have a valid taxpayer identification number (TIN), such as a Social Security number
3. Not have filed a joint tax return for the year
4. Not take a personal exemption (if available for the tax year) or claim someone else as a dependent
On top of that criteria, the person must be a qualified child or a qualified relative.
WHAT IS A QUALIFIED CHILD?
To be written off as a dependent, a qualified child must meet five criteria:
- Relationship. The person must be your child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or step siblings, or a descendant of any of them.
- Age. The person must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the tax year, (b) under 24 if they’re a full-time student and younger than you, or (c) any age if they’re permanently and totally disabled.
- Residency. The person must share a principal residence with you for more than half the tax year. Exceptions apply for circumstances like temporary absences (e.g., for illness, education, or vacation) or the birth or death of a child during the year.
- Support. The person must provide less than half of their own support for the year.
- Joint return. The person must not file a joint return for the year (unless they file only to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid).
If the person has met the criteria to be a qualified dependent AND a qualified child, then you can claim them on your taxes.
WHAT IS A QUALIFIED RELATIVE?
To be a qualified relative, a person must meet the following criteria:
- Not a qualifying child. To meet this test, the person can’t be your qualifying child or another taxpayer’s qualifying child.
- Member of household or relationship. The person must live with you all year as a household member. Otherwise, they must be related to you as your child, stepchild, foster child, or a descendent of any of them; your sibling, including half-siblings and stepsiblings; your parent, stepparent, grandparent, or another direct ancestor (but not a foster parent); your aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew; or your daughter-in-law, son-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law.)
- Gross income. The person’s gross income for the year must be less than $4,300 ($4,400 for 2022). An exception applies if the person is disabled and has income from a sheltered workshop.
- Support. You must provide more than half of the person’s total support for the year.
If the person has met the criteria to be a qualified dependent AND a qualified relative, then you can claim them on your taxes.
As always, it’s important to meet with your tax professional to make sure you’re properly categorizing your dependents and getting all the benefits you can.
If you have more questions, contact us today!