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How to Claim a Qualifying Relative as a Dependent

Important: Starting with Tax Year 2018 (Jan. - Dec. 2018), the qualifying relative test does not apply to exemptions since they are eliminated for 2018 and later Tax Returns. The test will now apply when determining if a person qualifies for the Child and Dependent Care Credit and for the new Non-Child Dependent Tax Credit. Though our RELucator tax tool is currently for Tax Year 2017, you may use it now to get an idea of your 2018 Taxes. We will update the tool and this page as the IRS finalizes the qualifications for the Non-Child Dependent Credit and other 2018 Tax Return information. Tax Reform and you? Let help you and become eligible to Tax Win. Find out now.

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 tax educator tool below, and you will find out for sure who a qualifying relative is:

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What Are the Qualifying Relative Requirements?

An individual must meet all 4 of these requirements in order to be considered your Qualifying Relative.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Gross Income: The person must have made less than $4,050 in gross income during 2017.
  4. 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!

The tax tool below 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!

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Qualifying Relative Special Cases

Temporary Absences

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

Adult Child

Your son was 24 and single at the end of 2017. 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 $4,050 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 $4,050. 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 does not need to file a tax return.