Taxpayers are eligible to claim an exemption for dependents in two separate categories: qualifying child and qualifying relative.
There are certain requirements set forth by the IRS in order to determine if a child qualifies for a dependency exemption. A qualifying child has to meet five different dependency tests: Member of household, relationship, citizen or resident, joint return, age or student, and support.
It is imperative that the child live with you for over half of the year to be considered a qualifying dependent.
The dependent has to be related to you. They must be your child, sibling, stepbrother/stepsister, half-sibling, grandchild, niece/nephew, or a child who has been legally adopted, placed for adoption or a foster child.
The child must be a citizen of the United States, or a resident of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
The dependent may be married, but can't file a joint return with their spouse.
The child has to be under the age of 19 at the end of the year, unless they are a full-time student. Full-time student status increases the age of dependency up to 23, provided they are a student for at least 5 months. Children who are permanently disabled are exempt from this test.
You need to have supported over half of the dependent's expenses for the year. Support includes food, clothing, shelter, education expenses, medical or dental care, transportation and recreation.