You should be able to claim them as a dependent under the Qualifying Child rules if they meet all the requirements.
To be a Qualifying Child -
1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year, (b) under age 24 at the end of the year and a full-time student or (c) any age and permanently and totally disabled.
3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year. Temporary absences while away at college are considered living with you.
4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
5. If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, you must be the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.
6. The child must be a U.S. citizen or U.S., Canada or Mexico resident for some portion of the year.
7. The child must be younger than you unless disabled.
Q. Can she be claimed as a dependent in our married filing jointly tax return?
A. Yes, most likely. It depends on what "did not live at home" really means.
Students away at college, even living off campus, with a full year lease, are usually only considered as temporarily absent from the parent's home. That is, they are considered as still living with the parent.
There are two types of dependents, "Qualifying Children"(QC) and standard ("Qualifying Relative" in IRS parlance even though they don't have to actually be related). There is no income limit for a QC but there is an age limit, student status, a relationship test and residence test.
A child of a taxpayer can still be a “Qualifying Child” (QC) dependent, regardless of his/her income, if:
- He is under age 19, or under 24 if a full time student for at least 5 months of the year, or is totally & permanently disabled
- He did not provide more than 1/2 his own support. Scholarships are excluded from the support calculation
- He lived with the parent (including temporary absences such as away at school) for more than half the year
So, it doesn't matter how much he earned. What matters is how much he spent on support. Money he put into savings does not count as support he spent on him self.
The support value of the home, provided by the parent, is the fair market rental value of the home plus utilities & other expenses divided by the number of occupants.
The IRS has a worksheet that can be used to help with the support calculation. See: http://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/content/globalmedia/teacher/worksheet_for_determining_support_4012.pdf
But, if the student's circumstances are such that she cannot be considered as residing with you, then she is disqualified as a QC dependent and her $10,000 of income disqualifies her as a qualifying relative dependent.