Who Qualifies as a Dependent on Your Return?
If you're not sure if a particular person, such as a child, step-child, sibling, or nephew, might qualify on your tax return as a dependent, the DEPENDucator tool below will provide your personal answer.
There are many rules for qualifying dependents; the DEPENDucator makes it easy for you to find out quickly. Depending on your relationship with the person in question, you may also want to use the RELucator tool to determine if a person is a qualifying relative. If a person is a qualifying relative, they can be claimed as a dependent on your tax return.
Dependents and Your Tax Return
Dependents are people who rely on someone for support, primarily financial support. This can be someone you take care of within your own home and is often a child or relative; for example, you and your spouse's child. There are many factors which determine a dependent's status, including their relationship to you and their income.
Your dependent might want to file his or her own return. In that case, the dependent should check off in the eFile app that someone is claiming him or her as a dependent. See more on a tax return by a dependent.
See what to do if a dependent was claimed by an unqualified or ineligible taxpayer, e.g in the case of a divorce, separation, or unmarried couples.
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The DEPENDucator Tax Tool will help you determine if someone is your qualifying child and dependent. Just answer the "Yes" and "No" questions until the DEPENDucator provides you with an answer. Not only will the DEPENDucator tell you if you can claim someone as your dependent, it will also tell you if your dependent qualifies you for the Child Tax Credit, the Credit for Other Dependents, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Our DEPENDucator is a multi-year tool so you can use it for previous years’ tax returns as well! See all of the requirements for claiming a Qualifying Child as a dependent.
The amount of dependents you should claim relies on how many people you take care of in your household. If you take care of children, adults, or other persons, you may be able to claim them as dependents.
Claiming dependents is easy through your eFile account. You can add your dependent information, including any dependent care expenses, and their details will be generated on the Form 1040 for you. The app will then walk you through claiming all associated tax credits and deductions related to dependents.
Not sure how to handle your dependent on your taxes? Get an idea using these free tools:
DEPENDucator: Who qualifies as a dependent on my tax return?
CHILDucator: Do I get the Child Tax Credit for my dependent?
FILEucator: Does my dependent have to file taxes?
EITCucator: Is my Earned Income Tax Credit bigger when I claim dependents?
TAXometer: How do I claim my dependents on a W4?
Dependents on taxes can increase your refund which is why there are many tax fraud cases involving dependents. See details on what to do if someone claimed your dependent.
This may seem simple, but you should file your return as soon as you are able to so no one has the chance to file with your dependent's information. Once a Social Security number is claimed on a return, it is locked for that tax year and any subsequent returns will be rejected by the IRS.
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It's good to claim dependents on your tax return because they may qualify you for certain tax credits and/or a more beneficial filing status. Find out how to claim a dependent on your tax return. The Child Tax Credit and other tax credits reduce your tax by a dollar-for-dollar amount and may even be refunded to you.
These credits and deductions may be limited based on the dependent's age. For example, while you can claim a 25 year old child as a dependent, you would not get the Child Tax Credit for this dependent. You can also claim a dependent or relative that is your age or even older than you, such as an elderly and/or disabled parent. This can be done if they meet certain requirements, like having little to no earned income of their own. If your spouse does not work or is disabled, you can never claim them as a dependent as the IRS prohibits spouses from claiming each other. If you are married, you will need to file either joint or separate return with your spouse. See our free STATucator to best determine your filing status.
If someone is NOT your qualifying child, you can still claim them as a dependent if they are your qualifying relative; find out if someone is your qualifying relative here. If you are not sure if your dependent needs to file their own tax return, visit our guide on whether or not a dependent is required to file a tax return.
Your dependent may also need to file taxes if they work or have income - you do not report your dependent's income on your tax return. They may need to file if they earn more than the dependent standard deduction of $1,150 or the sum of $400 and their individual earned income. Determine if you need to file taxes here.
See also: the Child and Dependent Care Credit, a calculator for the Child Tax Credit, and a guide for students and taxes.
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