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Can a 21 year old get earned income credit if they have a 26 year old sibling as a dependent

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No, unless the sibling is disabled. Although the sibling qualifies as a dependent, he does qualify as a qualifying child*.

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, a relationship test and a residence test. Only a QC qualifies the taxpayer for the Earned Income Credit.


*A child closely related to a taxpayer can be a “Qualifying Child (QC)” dependent, regardless of the child's income, if:

1.                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

2.                He did not provide more than 1/2 his own support

3.                He lived with the relative (including temporary absences) for more than half the year

4.                He is younger than the relative (not applicable for a disabled child)

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 (this essentially means that you have the parent’s permission to claim the child, if the child also lived with the parent more than half the year)

6.                If the parents of a child can claim the child as a qualifying child but no parent so claims the child, no one else can claim the child as a qualifying child unless that person's adjusted gross income (AGI) is higher than the highest AGI of any of the child's parents who can claim the child. 

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