FAQs and Links
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Q: How do I determine whether I can claim my child as a dependent?
A: In order to qualify as a dependent child, they must pass the following five tests:
1. Qualifying child or relative test-individual must be the taxpayer's child, stepchild, adopted child, foster child, or descedent of any of these; or brother, sister, step-sibling, half-sibling, or descendent of any of these (for example, a neice or nephew) to qualify as a dependent.
2. Residency test-Individual must have resided with the taxpayer for more than 6 months of the year in the same home to qualify as a dependent.
3. Age requirement test-A qualifying child is an individual who is either under the age of 19 at the end of the calendar year, under the age of 24 at the end of the calendar year and a full time student for at least five months during the year, or permanently and totally disabled at any time during the calendar year, regardless of age.
4. Support test-To qualify as a dependent child, an individual must not provide more than one half of their living expenses (for example, rent, meals, transportation). In this instance, a scholarship received by a child who is a full time student is not included in the child's income. This test is an important one, and it is beneficial for tax preparation purposes for the taxpayer to have an itemized list of any and all income made by a child whom they wish to claim as a dependent ready to present during their tax preparation.
5. Joint return test-An individual cannot be a qualifying child of another taxpayer if they file a joint return with his or her spouse for the calendar year unless the joint return is filed only to claim a refund.
Q: How do I determine whether I can claim an individual as a qualifying relative? (Note: these requirements are different than those for qualifying child.)
A: To be considered a qualifying relative, an individual must pass the following four tests:
1. Not a qualifying child-The individual must not be a qualifying child of another taxpayer.
2. Relationship or member of household test-To be a qualifying relative of a taxpayer, a person must have either lived in the taxpayer's home all year as a member of the household or be related to the taxpayer (or spouse, if the taxpayer is filing a joint return) by one of the following relationships: child, stepchild, adopted child, foster child, or a descendent of any of them; brother, sister, half-sibling, stepsibling; parent, grandparent, or any other direct ancestor (other than foster parent) as well as any stepparent; aunt, uncle, neice, or nephew; father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
3. Gross income test: In order to be a qualifying relative of a taxpayer, a dependent's gross income for the calendar year of 2011 must have been less than $3,700. (Other years have different income requirements.) Gross income includes all income in the form of money, services, and property that is not exempt from tax, such as receipts from rental property, a partner's share of gross partnership income, taxable unemployment compensation, and taxable scholarships and grants. Gross income does not include income received by a disabled individual for services performed at a sheltered workshop, if the availability of medical services is the primary reason for participation in the workshop.
4. Support test: To be a qualifying relative, the taxpayer must have provided more than one half of the person's total support during the calendar year. It is the taxpayer's responsibility to prove not only the support he or she provided to the person, but also the total support the person received during the year, including tax-exempt interest, savings, and borrowed amounts. "Total support" includes amounts spent to provide food, shelter, clothing, education, medical and dental care, transportation, and other necessities. Expenses not directly related to any one member of a household may be divided among members of the household. Examples of amounts not included in total support are: the person's own funds which are not actually spent for support; federal, state and local income taxes paid by persons from their own income; Socal Security and Medicare taxes paid by persons from their own income; life insurance premiums; and funeral expenses.
For more information regarding whether a person may be claimed as a dependent in cases of divorce, separation, multiple support agreements, and other complex instances please see the IRS website or come in to see us.
To use the following link for refund information, you will need your filing status (single, married, etc), a social security number that is linked to the return (either the taxpayer or the spouse), and the amount expected to be refunded.
IRS Where's My Refund?: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96596,00.html?portlet=101