If you’re confused about who you can claim as a dependent on your taxes this year, you’re not alone. In fact, ABC News reports that it is one of the most frequently asked taxpayer questions. What a lot of people don’t realize is that an individual doesn’t have to be your child in order to claim them. They must, however, meet certain criteria. To clear up any confusion about who you can claim as a dependent continue reading.

It is first important to note that the tax reform has made changes as to who can be claimed as a dependent. These changes will affect you when you file your 2018 return.


Qualifying Child vs. Qualifying Relative

The IRS defines dependents in two ways, a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. The individual must pass the following tests to qualify.


Qualifying Child Test

To be a qualifying child the individual must be younger than 19 years old at the end of the year for which you are filing. The exception to this is if your child is in school. In this instance, the child must have spent at least 5 months in school and has to be younger than 24 at the end of the year.

Other Qualifications include:

  • The child or relative is “permanently and totally disabled.” In this instance, there is no age limit.
  • The individual must be related to you under one of these categories: The child is biologically yours, You have adopted the child, or you foster the child, The individual is your brother or sister, the individual is your grandchild, or, the individual is your niece or nephew.
  • They must have lived with you for more than half the year.

Qualifying Relative Test

This category is a little bit larger as it is not restrictive to relatives.

  • The individual can not have made more than $4,050.
  • You must have provided over half of the individual’s support.
  • If the person is not related to you, they must have lived with your for the entire year. Check your state laws in this instance as sometimes boyfriends and girlfriends are non-applicable.


Clearing Up Confusion

If you have a college-aged child that doesn’t live with you but does attend college you can still claim them as an independent. Intuit explains that the individual you are claiming as a dependent must meet at least one of the criteria. For instance: if your child goes to college they can still be claimed as a dependent. This is true even if they don’t live you for over have the year. That is until they are over 24 years old.

If you’re wondering whether or not you can claim your parents on your taxes just take a look at the qualifications. Obviously, you can’t claim them as a qualified child but they may meet qualified relative criteria. If your parents are elderly and they have lived with you for the entire year then you can claim them. The stipulation here is that they can not have made more than $4,050.00 in the year 2017.

You know who you can’t claim as a dependent? Your pets. Just in case you were tempted, don’t try it. For a few humorous anecdotes about people who tired that and more, check out this article from CBS News. A few chuckles may help ease the stress of taxes.


If you’re still not certain as to who to claim as a dependent feel free to make an appointment with DCA CPAs. 


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