Here are the criteria for claiming a dependent in this situation:
Dependent taxpayer test: The taxpayer, or spouse of the taxpayer if filing jointly, cannot be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
Married Filing Jointly test: If you file a joint return with your spouse, you cannot be treated as a dependent. (This rule does not apply if the joint return was filed only as a claim for refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse if they had filed separate returns).
Citizen or resident test: The person claimed as a dependent must be either a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. An adopted child that lived with the taxpayer all year passes this test if the taxpayer is a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
Relationship or Member of Household Test: To be considered a qualifying relative, a person must be:
- A son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of these
- A brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of these
- A father, mother, or an ancestor or sibling of them (does not include foster parents)
- A stepbrother, stepsister, stepfather, stepmother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or
- Any other person (other than the spouse) who lived with the taxpayer all year as a member of the taxpayer's household as long at the relationship did not violate local law. Exceptions: Temporary absences for special circumstances such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or incarceration count as time lived in the home. Also, the taxpayer's mother or father does not have to live with the taxpayer as long as the taxpayer is able to claim the parent as a dependent and paid more than half the cost of keeping up the parent's main home (including nursing homes) for the entire year.
Not a Qualifying Child Test: The relative cannot be a qualifying child of any other taxpayer for the year.
Gross Income Test: The relative's gross income must be less than $4200 for the year. Gross income is all income that is not tax-exempt. Examples of gross income include taxable Social Security benefits, taxable unemployment compensation, and certain scholarships and fellowships (i.e., monies used to pay higher education expenses other than tuition, fees, supplies, books, and course-required equipment).
Support Test: The taxpayer must have provided over 1/2 of the relative's support during the year. This test does not apply to persons who qualify as dependents under the children of divorced or separated parents rule and multiple support agreements.
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