Taxes can be difficult to prepare on your own, and as a parent, the addition of dependents can make things even more difficult. However, by claiming your child(ren) as a dependent, you become entitled to a variety of tax savings from the government. In order to maximize your benefits as a parent, follow these tips:
You aren’t able to use the simple version of the standard tax form, the 1040-EZ. Instead, you’ll have to use the original Form 1040. You may need additional forms if you seek to claim education credits or deductions for your child’s college education costs that you have paid throughout the year.
You likely won’t have any reason to file as single if you are a parent and supporting a dependent. If your child resided with you for over half of the year and you paid for over 50% of the child’s living expenses, then you’ll benefit from filing as married (single or joint depending on situation), head of household, or widower.
Children under age 19 who live with you are eligible for an exemption that you can claim on your tax return if they are your dependent. This includes stepchildren and children who have been legally adopted. Those who are physically or mentally disabled throughout the year can be claimed as your dependent, no matter how old they are.
Your child qualifies as a dependent provided you supply support and housing for the child. You are no able to claim a child as a dependent if any of the following are true:
- You are someone else’s dependent as claimed on another’s tax return
- Your child is not a resident of North America
- Your child is older than age 19 and not enrolled full-time in school
- Your child is over age 24 regardless of student status
- Your child is married and files a joint return with their spouse (unless the child doesn’t claim a personal exemption and only files to claim a refund)
- You provided less than half of the child’s support
- Your child didn’t reside in your household for at least six months of the tax year (Exceptions include business, military services, death, illness, and education statuses)
- You are divorced or separated, and the child spends more time at the other parent’s house