If you want to claim someone as your dependent, there are five tests that must be met:
- The member of household or relationship test,
- The citizenship test,
- The joint return test,
- The gross income test; and
- The support test.
The first test is the member of household or relationship test. To meet this test
a person must live with you for the entire year as a member of your household or be related to you.
The Form 1040 and 1040A instruction booklets list all relatives who meet the relationship test.
Your spouse is never considered your dependent.
A person is not considered a member of your household if, at any time during the tax year,
your relationship with that person violates local law. If a person was born or died during the year and was a member
of your household during the entire part of the year he or she was alive, the person meets the
member of household test.
The second test is the citizenship test. This means your dependent must be a U.S.
citizen or resident, resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the tax year.
To find out who is a resident alien see Topic 851
and Publication 519.
The third test is the joint return test. Generally, you are not allowed to claim a
person as a dependent if he or she files a joint return. However, you may claim a person
who filed a joint return merely to claim a refund of tax. This exception
applies if the person and the person's spouse were not required to file a return and
no tax liability would have existed for either the person or the person's spouse if each had filed a separate return.
The fourth test is the gross income test. Generally, you may not claim as a dependent
a person who had gross income of $2,800 or more for 2000. Gross income is all income in
the form of money, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. There are two exceptions
to the gross income test. If your child is under age 19 at the end of the year or a full-time
student under the age of 24, the gross income test does not apply.
The fifth test is the support test. To claim someone as your dependent you must provide
more than half of that person's total support during the year. A special rule applies to children
of divorced or separated parents. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as the person who
provides more than half of the child's support. The noncustodial parent can meet this
test if the custodial parent releases his or her claim to the exemption
on Form 8332 or by a
substantially similar written statement.
See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.
You must include a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN),
or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN)
for each dependent claimed on your tax return or the exemption will be disallowed.
For more information on the ITIN, see Topic 857 or
For more information on the ATIN see Publication 968, Tax Benefits for Adoption.
For more information on dependents, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information,
Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents,
or the interactive Tax Trails on Dependents.
Publications and Forms may be downloaded from this site,
or ordered by calling 1-800-829-3676.
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