February 5, 2015
To get a little extra cash back this tax season, taxpayers should consider the benefits of claiming children or adult relatives as dependents. For each dependent a taxpayer claims that qualifies, they get a personal exemption, and depending on the age and relationship of the dependent, they may be eligible for additional tax credit which can reduce their tax liability and save them money. The tax credits a taxpayer may be permitted to claim for their dependents include the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit. A single filer who has a qualifying dependent can claim Head of Household status, which can also be valuable at tax time.
IRS Criteria for Dependents
The IRS requires that taxpayers and their dependents meet the following qualifications in order to claim a child or adult relative:
The person who files may not be claimed as a dependent on any other return.
The dependent may not be married, filing jointly unless they owed nothing in taxes when filed separately, and are only issued a refund of withholdings.
The dependent is required to be a citizen of the United States, resident alien, and in some cases a resident of Canada or Mexico.
The dependent can only be claimed once; therefore they cannot be a dependent on anyone else's return.
Children who are claimed as dependents must live with the filer for over half of the year.
The taxpayer must have paid over half of the support for the dependent.
"The IRS has specific details of who qualifies as a dependent in regards to relatives and children." explained Paul Stanley of eTax.com. "If two filers list the same person as a dependent on two separate tax returns, there is a higher risk of having the return rejected."
Additional information on what qualifications are needed to claim dependents in each type of tax benefit program is available from the IRS, as the criteria can vary from credit to credit.