If you believe you can claim tax dependents, this can make you eligible for more deductions and credits, as well as the head of household filing status. However, the rules can be rather complex, and it is important to ensure that you claim dependents correctly. In this article, we will examine who you can claim as tax dependents and what that could mean for your taxes.
To claim someone as a dependent, they must fall into either the qualifying child or qualifying relative categories. This can include various family members, such as children, stepchildren, foster children, and relatives like siblings, nieces and nephews, parents, and more.
The key is to determine whether they meet the IRS requirements for being “qualifying.” For tax year 2022 (which you would file an income tax return for in 2023), you can review IRS Publication 501, Table 5 for more information on what qualifies someone as a qualifying child or qualifying relative.
Traditionally, to claim someone as a dependent, you need to provide more than half of their financial support during the year. There are also restrictions on the age for qualifying children (usually under 19, with some exceptions) or income for qualifying relatives (the prospective dependent must have less than $4,440 in gross income for the year.).
You can even claim unrelated people as dependents if they live with you the whole year, among other requirements, to count as a qualifying relative.
Be sure to include your legal dependents properly when filing your taxes to maximize your refund. You can file your taxes online easily in less than 15 minutes.
There are a few exceptions regarding who cannot be claimed as a tax dependent. For example, you cannot claim your spouse as a dependent. Household employees such as housekeepers also cannot be claimed as your tax dependents.
Most foreign residents also cannot be claimed as tax dependents, as they need to either be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident, a U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
You also generally cannot claim someone as a qualifying child or qualifying relative if they are married and file a joint return, unless that is to claim a tax refund.
If you claim someone as your tax dependent, they cannot claim someone else as their own tax dependent. Likewise, if someone claims you as their dependent, you cannot claim someone else as your tax dependent.
Additionally, the same dependent generally cannot be claimed more than once by different taxpayers, for example, both you and your sibling cannot claim your parent as a dependent.
In the past, claiming someone as your dependent could reduce your taxable income by allowing you to claim personal exemptions for dependents, which meant these dependents could not claim their own personal exemptions if they filed their tax returns.
The Tax Cuts and Job Act eliminated these personal exemptions until the end of 2025, but it increased other tax benefits that can arise from claiming dependents, such as the Child Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit also increased as part of pandemic relief in 2021 but has since returned to $2,000 per qualifying child.
To claim tax dependents, begin by listing their names on the first page of Form 1040 for your individual income tax return. As you fill out your tax return, you will find various places to claim dependent-related tax benefits, such as the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. Tax preparation services can assist you in determining what to claim and how to do so