Lia Kopin-Green
March 20, 2023

What is a Dependent?

For tax law purposes, a dependent is a person “other than the taxpayer or spouse” who meets the criteria to be claimed by someone else on a United States tax return. Put simply, a dependent is defined as someone who relies on another person for financial support. Having a dependent entitled taxpayers to claim dependency exemptions on their federal income tax return.

Key Takeaways

  • A dependent is a person who meets certain criteria to be claimed by someone else on a United States tax return.
  • Dependents rely on another person for financial support.
  • In most cases, dependents are a child or other relative.

Qualifying as a Dependent

Determining whether someone is a tax dependent can be challenging. However, it is necessary to comply with the strict IRS definition in order to minimize your tax liability. The two main types of dependents are qualifying children or qualifying relatives.

If you are interested in claiming a child as a dependent on your tax return, the child must meet all of the following conditions:

  • The child has to be part of the family. In other words, the child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of those people.
  • The child has to be under a certain age.To satisfy this requirement, the child must be below 18 years of age or between 18 and 23 years and enrolled as a full-time student. Alternatively, they can exceed these age limits, but must be permanently and completely disabled as confirmed by a medical professional.
  • The child must live with you. According to this condition, the child must have lived with you for more than half of the tax year. In cases of divorce, the custodial parent typically claims the child as a dependent.
  • The child has not provided more than half of their own support during the year. These expenses can include food, housing, medical care and education.

Qualifying relatives are also considered dependents on US tax returns. However, in order to claim a relative as a tax dependent on your tax return, the individual must fulfill all of the following requirements.

  • The relative is not a qualifying child. A qualifying relative must meet the “not a qualifying child” test since a dependent cannot be a qualifying child and relative at the same time.
  • The person must be related to you or live with you. It should be noted that only one of these two conditions needs to be met to satisfy this requirement.
  • The person’s gross income is below the limit. For the 2022 tax year, the person’s gross income for the tax year cannot exceed $4,400. For the 2023 tax year (taxes filed in 2024), this limit will rise to $4,700.
  • The person has not provided more than half of their own support during the year.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, it is essential to ensure your dependent fulfills all of the necessary requirements to avoid penalties and legal issues while reducing your federal income tax liability.

In any case, it is advisable to consult with an experienced tax lawyer to ensure proper compliance with tax laws and regulations. Connect with a tax attorney in your area today with Attorney At Law.

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