Question

Can I claim someone as a dependent who's never lived with me?

Answer

Yes. The person doesn’t have to live with you in order to qualify as your dependent on taxes. However, the person must be a relative who meets one of the following relationship test requirements:

  • Your child, grandchild, or great-grandchild
  • Your legally adopted dependent
  • Your stepchild, stepbrother, or stepsister
  • Your brother, sister, half brother, or half sister
  • Your parent or other direct ancestor, but not a foster parent
  • Your stepfather or stepmother
  • Your parent’s brother or sister
  • Your brother’s or sister’s child
  • Your mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law

There are additional rules for the person to qualify as your dependent. To qualify as one of your dependents, all of these must be true:

  • The person must not be the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
  • The person must have gross income less than $4,050 for the year.
  • You must provide more than half of the person’s total support for the year. The person must be one of these:
    • U.S. citizen
    • U.S. national
    • Resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico
  • The person must not file a joint return unless he or she is only filing to claim a refund of estimated taxes or income taxes withheld. Also, there would be no tax liability for either the person or the person’s spouse if filing separate returns.

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