Who Can Claim The Children As Dependents For Tax Purposes?

Married couples who file jointly can claim children as exemptions.

Unmarried couples generally are not in a position to file jointly. As such it is important to determine who gets to claim the children as dependents on their tax returns. If only one parent is the legally recognized parent, then that parent can claim the exemption. When both parents are the legal parents, they can mutually agree on who can claim the exemption depending on who needs the exemption (financially), who gains more from the exemption or fix an schedule wherein one parent claims exemption for one year and the other parent for the next year.

If the couple is unable to reach an agreement on these issues, and there is no legal agreement or court order on this issue, the IRS will use five tests to determine who can claim the exemption.

Your answers to the following questions can help you determine who is entitled to claim the exemption.

The Member of Household or Relationship Test

Was the child living with your for the whole year as a member of the household except for temporary absence due to illness, vacation, business or military service?

Yes _____ No _____
Are you the natural parent or the adoptive parent?
Yes _____ No _____
If your answer is No to both questions, you cannot claim the exemption. If you have answered Yes to one or both, move to the The Citizenship or Residency Test

The Citizenship or Residency Test

Was the child a citizen or resident of the United States or a resident of Mexico or Canada for part of the tax year?
Yes _____ No _____
If your answer is No, you cannot claim the exemption. If your answer is Yes, move to The Joint Return Test

The Joint Return Test

Does the child qualify to file a joint return with another taxpayer?
Yes _____ No _____
If your answer is Yes, you cannot claim the exemption. If your answer is No, move to The Gross Income Test

The Gross Income Test

Is the child’s income for this tax year below $2800?
Yes _____ No _____
Is the child below the age of 19 at the end of the year?
Yes _____ No _____
Is the child a student below the age of 24 at the end of the year?
Yes _____ No _____
If your answer to all of these questions is No, you cannot claim the exemption. If your answer to any one of the these questions is Yes, move to the The Support Test

The Support Test

Were you the one who provided more than 50% if the child’s total financial support during the year?
Yes ___ No ____
Use this table to determine if you have provided more than 50% if the child’s total financial support during the year?

A. Child’s total expenses $ ____________
(Divide the total housing expenses by the number of members in the household; add the personal expenses of the child. Housing expenses includes rent, food, utilities, and maintenance expenses. Personal expenses of the child include school fees, medical care, clothing and recreation).

B. Total Support You Provided $ __________

C. A minus B $ ___________
If the figure in B is greater than the figure in C, then you are providing half of the support and if you have passed all of the above tests, you can claim the exemption.

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