Question

If my dependent didn’t maintain residency with me for the entire year, can I still claim him or her as a dependent?

Answer

Yes, it’s possible.

For you to claim him or her under the qualifying child rules, the dependent or dependents must meet all of these:

  • The dependent must be related to you as a:
    • Child, foster child (placed by an authorized agency), stepchild, or a descendent of any of these
    • Sibling, stepsibling, or a descendent of any of these
  • The dependent must be one of these:
    • Under age 19 and younger than you (or your spouse if married filing jointly)
    • Under age 24, a full-time student, and younger than you (or your spouse if married filing jointly)
    • Permanently and totally disabled
  • The dependent must not provide more than half of his or her own support for the year.
  • The dependent must not file a joint return for the year, unless it’s only to claim a refund of taxes withheld.
  • He or she must be one of these:
    • U.S. citizen
    • U.S. national
    • U.S. resident alien
    • Resident of Canada or Mexico

Also, dependent rules require that the dependent must have lived with you for more than half of the year. If your child was born or died during the year and lived with you, your home was the child’s home for the entire year. Temporary absences impact the residency rule and count as time lived with you. These include:

  • School
  • Vacation
  • Business
  • Medical care
  • Military services
  • Detention in a juvenile facility

If the person doesn’t meet these tests, he must meet the qualifying-relative tests for you to claim him. The qualifying-relative tests include:

  • The person must not qualify as somebody else’s qualifying child.
  • The person must live with you the entire year (365 days) or be one of these:
    • Your child, stepchild, foster child (placed by an authorized placement agency), or a descendent of any of these
    • Your brother or sister, stepsibling, or a descendent of any of these
    • Your parent, stepparent, grandparent, parent-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
    • Your uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece
  • You can still claim a qualifying relative who doesn’t meet the relationships above and didn’t stay with you for the entire year due to:
    • Illness
    • Education
    • Business
    • Vacation
    • Military service

    However, the absence must be temporary, usually less than six months. It also must established that the dependent would stay with you except for the absence.

  • The person must have gross income less than $4,050. Tax-exempt income, like certain Social Security benefits, isn’t included in gross income.
  • You must provide more than half of the person’s support for the year.
  • The person must not file a joint return for the year, unless it’s only to claim a refund of taxes withheld. Also, if he or she were to have filed separately from his or her spouse, neither would have owed taxes.
  • The person must be one of these:
    • U.S. citizen
    • U.S. national
    • U.S. resident alien
    • Resident of Canada or Mexico

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