Level 2

Can I claim my child as a dependent if I earn $0?

My spouse is a nonresident alien and so won't file US taxes, but is the sole earner of the household.


When I file my US taxes (I am a permanent resident), I will enter $0 as income, as I do not work. My question is that since we have a US citizen child, can I claim the child as a dependent on mine even though I'm not earning?


She isn't being claimed on anyone else's return. My goal is to obtain the stimulus check for both me and my child by filing a 1040 (married filing separately or head of household) with $0 income and a reform rebate credit.


Thank you for your time.

Expert Alumni

Get your taxes done using TurboTax

Yes, you can claim your child as a dependent if all of these requirements are met:


Qualifying child

  • They're related to you.
  • They aren't claimed as a dependent by someone else.
  • They're a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a Canadian or Mexican resident.
  • They aren’t filing a joint return with their spouse.
  • They're under the age of 19 (or 24 for full-time students).
    • No age limit for permanently and totally disabled children.
  • They lived with you for more than half the year.
  • They didn't provide more than half of their own support for the year.


Yes, you can file your return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit without any income. To claim the Recovery Rebate Credit in TurboTax, please follow these steps:

  1. Log into TurboTax.
  2. After entering all your information click "Federal Review" at the top of your screen. 
  3. On the screen "Let's make sure you got the right stimulus amount" click "Continue".
  4. You will be asked about the amounts of first round and second round stimulus payments you received.  If you did not receive a payment enter "0".
  5. TurboTax will then calculate the amount of stimulus payment remaining that you are still entitled to get. 
  6. Any stimulus amount remaining due to you will show as a credit on line 30 of the 1040.


To be eligible for the credit you need to be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2020 and have a Social Security number that is valid for employment.




You won't qualify for head of household since you did not pay more than half the cost to run your home. Please see Do I qualify for Head of Household in 2020? for more details.


You will have to file married filing separately. You will not be able to e-file your tax return, you will have to print and mail the return. When TurboTax asks for your spouse's Social Security Number (SSN) then enter as a placeholder SSN (we suggest 999-88-9999, 999-88-9998 or 999-88-9987, as those numbers won’t produce any TurboTax program errors in a review check). After you printed your return your will have to white out the placeholder SSN and write "NRA" (for nonresident alien).


Please see How do I print and mail my return in TurboTax Online? for additional information.



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