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Who Qualifies as Your Dependent?

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Since every family is different, the question of “can I claim my kid as a dependent”, comes up quite often. As you will see below, to qualify as a dependent, six tests must be met.

What is a dependent? A dependent is a person other than the taxpayer or spouse who entitles the taxpayer to claim a dependency exemption.

Is there a condition that would automatically void a dependency exemption? A taxpayer cannot claim a dependency exemption for a person who can be claimed as a dependent on another tax return.


Here is an example:

Adam is married to Beth, they adopted Cindy. Cindy is married to Dan. Cindy and Dan have lived with Adam and Beth from February 2020 to November2020. Cindy is 20 years old and attends UCLA as a full-time student.

Cindy works in the campus bookstore and receives a W2. Cindy makes $5,000, her expenses are $15,000, Adam and Beth provide the rest. Cindy and Dan file a joint return, only to claim withheld tax. Cindy is a U.S. citizen, but Dan is a resident of Canada.

Can Adam and Beth claim Cindy as a qualifying child?

Yes, they can!

Let us look at the facts:

· Cindy is adopted, 20 years old, a full-time student, a U.S. citizen, and married

· Cindy lived at the taxpayer’s residence for 9 months

· Cindy provides 33.33% of her own support

· Cindy files a tax return


The takeaway: There are 6 tests that must be met in order to claim a qualifying child.

1. Relationship – must be a close relationship.

Cindy meets this test because she is adopted.

2. Residence – must live with the taxpayer for more than half of the tax year.

Cindy meets this test because she has lived with the taxpayer for 9 months.

3. Age – under 19 or under 24 if a full-time student.

Cindy is over 19 years of age; however, she is a full-time student!

4. Support – the child did not provide more than half of his/her support.

Cindy did not provide at least 50% of her own support.

5. Nationality – must be a U.S. citizen or resident.

Cindy is a U.S. citizen.

6. Marital status – cannot be married or if married cannot file a return.


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