Tax Time Questions with Independent Tax Preparer Deborah Ritz

What children cannot be claimed as dependents?

Is there an age limit for claiming my children as dependents?

There are two types of dependents, a qualifying child and a qualifying relative.

A “qualifying child” may enable a taxpayer to claim several tax benefits, such as head of household filing status, the exemption for a dependent, the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit and the earned income tax credit.

In general, to be a taxpayer’s qualifying child, a person must satisfy four tests: Relationship, Residence, Age and Support.

• Relationship — the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these.

• Residence — has the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than half the tax year. Exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents, kidnapped children, temporary absences, and for children who were born or died during the year.

• Age — must be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year, or be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year.

• Support — did not provide more than one-half of his/her own support for the year.

If two or more taxpayers can claim the same child as a qualifying child in a given year, the child will be the qualifying child of:

• the parent;

• if more than one taxpayer is the child’s parent, the one with whom the child lived for the longest time during the year, or, if the time was equal, the parent with the highest AGI;

• if no taxpayer is the child’s parent, the taxpayer with the highest adjusted gross income.

A child who is not a qualifying child might still be a dependent as a qualifying relative.

To be claimed as a qualifying relative, the person must pass all of the following tests:

• Not a qualifying child – The dependent cannot be a qualifying child of another taxpayer.

• Gross Income – The dependent earns less than $3,700

• Total Support – You provide more than half of the dependent’s total support during the year.

• Relationship – Dependent is related to the taxpayer (parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, etc.) OR live with the taxpayer for an entire year, and the relationship must not violate local laws.

• Joint Return – If the dependent is married, the dependent cannot file a joint return with his or her spouse

• Citizenship – The dependent must be a citizen or resident alien of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.

More information is available from the IRS in Publication 501 or at their website:

Questions for Deborah Ritz can be e-mailed to


Share Button