How to Claim a Qualifying Relative as a Dependent
What Is a Qualifying Relative?
A Qualifying Relative is a person who meets the IRS requirements to be your dependent for tax purposes. If someone is your Qualifying Relative, then you can claim them as a dependent on your tax return.
Despite the name, a Qualifying Relative does not necessarily have to be related to you.
Simply use the easy step by step tool below, and you will find out for sure who a qualifying relative is.
What Are the Qualifying Relative Requirements?
An individual must meet all 4 of these requirements in order to be considered your Qualifying Relative.
- Not a Qualifying Child: The individual cannot be your Qualifying Child and cannot be someone else's Qualifying Child. They are a Qualifying Child if they meet all the requirements, whether or not they are claimed as a dependent.
- Relationship: The person must either have lived with you for the entire year as a member of the household (a person who is not actually related to you may meet the requirements in this way), or be related to you in one of the following ways: your child, stepchild, grandchild or other descendant of one of your children (or stepchildren or foster children), son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, parent, stepfather, stepmother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandparent, and, if related by blood, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. Remember that a child whom you legally adopted is always considered to be your child. Also note that, for the purposes of this requirement, divorce or death does not change any relationship which was established by marriage (e.g. son-in-law, daughter-in-law, etc.)
- Gross Income: The person must have made less than $3,900 in gross income during 2013 (less than $3,800 in 2012).
- Support: You must have provided more than half of the individual's total support during the year.
Who Is My Qualifying Relative? Use this FREE Tool to Find out Now!
This tool will help you determine whether or not someone is your Qualifying Relative. Read the question and simply answer with Yes or No and follow the next step until you get the answer you are looking for.
Qualifying Relative Special Cases
A person is still considered to be living with you during any period of time when either of you are temporarily away from home due to school, business, military service, medical care, or vacation.
If a Qualifying Relative is placed in a nursing home permanently or indefinitely, they are still considered to be away on a temporary absence.
Birth or Death
If someone died during the year, but lived with you as a member of your household for the rest of the year, they are considered to have lived with you for the entire year.
If a child was born during the year, but lived with you as a member of your household for the rest of the year, they are also considered to have lived with you all year.
In the case of either birth or death, any related hospital stay is considered a temporary absence.
Income Not Used for Support
Any income that someone receives but does not spend is not counted as part of their own support.
Multiple Support Agreement
If you and one or more other people together provide more than half of a person's support, and that person meets the requirements to be the Qualifying Relative of each of you, you can agree among yourselves who gets to claim the person as a Qualifying Relative. It can be anyone of you who provides more than 10% of the person's support, but only one person can get the exemption. Each of the other people providing support will need to sign a statement agreeing not to claim the exemption for the year. Whoever claims the exemption should keep the signed statements for their records.
If you claim the exemption under such a multiple support agreement, you should attach to your return Form 2120 - Multiple Support Declaration.
Qualifying Relative Examples
Your son was 24 and single at the end of 2013. He was unemployed and lived at home all year long. He is too old to be your Qualifying Child, but because his income was under $3,800 and you provided more than half of his support for the year, he is your Qualifying Relative and can be claimed as your dependent.
Your mother was retired and had no income all year. She lived on her own, but you provided more than half of her support for the year. She is your Qualifying Relative and you can claim her as a dependent.
Girlfriend or Boyfriend
Your girlfriend lived with you all year and her income was less than $3,900. Her parents provided some support for her, but you provided more than half of her support. She is 19 years old and is not a college student, so she is not her parents' Qualifying Child. She is your Qualifying Relative and you can claim her as a dependent.
Child of Girlfriend
Your girlfriend's 8-year old son, who is not your child, lived with you and your girlfriend all year. Your girlfriend had no income and you provided more than half of her son's support. He is your Qualifying Relative and you can claim him as a dependent.
In the past, you would not be able to claim your girlfriend's child as a Qualifying Relative because the child was considered to be the Qualifying Child of his or her mother, even if she did not claim the child as a dependent. But the IRS has revised its views and now allows the boyfriend with whom the mother and child live all year to claim the child as a dependent if the parent’s income is so low that she doesn’t need to file a tax return.