Few households are alike, and individuals may have a number of different people residing with them at some point. From young kids or adult children that have moved back after college to elderly parents and relatives that need constant care, people may have different obligations and changing circumstances. This can make filing taxes tricky at some points, because filers may be uncertain about the guidelines and rules associated with claiming these individuals as dependents on their tax returns.
The Internal Revenue Service has a number of criteria that must be met, which govern whether certain people meet the dependents status. Generally, qualifying children are defined as a biological child, step-child, adopted child, foster child, brother or sister or a descendant of one of these. In order to claim them on tax forms, these individuals must live in the filer's home for more than half the year. In addition, qualifying children must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year. Lastly, in order to claim children, they must be under age 19 at the end of the year, or under age 24 and a full-time student for at least five months out of the year. Additionally, parents can claim qualifying children of any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.
Relatives can be claimed as well
In addition to children, taxpayers who are supporting relatives may also be able to claim them as dependents if they meet certain guidelines. First, the dependent cannot be a qualifying child of another taxpayer. In addition, the dependent must earn less than the personal exemption amount for the year, which for 2013 is $3,900. The taxpayer must also provide more than half of the individuals' total support during the year. An important rule to remember is that those who plan on claiming an adult relative cannot do so if that dependent is married and plans to file a joint return with a spouse. Lastly, the person being claimed must be a citizen or resident alien of the United States, Canada or Mexico.
In scenarios where several people are helping to care for an adult relative, the tax rules can become tricky. In order to clear up confusion, individuals should keep active records of how many days the person lives with them, how much financial and medical support is being provided and how much income the individual receiving care brings in. It's also critical to consult a tax preparer to learn about any other criteria that must be met.
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