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Claiming Children As Dependents

For income tax purposes, dependents are the people you support. Tax laws have changed making it legal to claim any kids you support, even if they are not your own. This can be a big benefit to you come tax time.

Raising children isn't easy...or cheap. But this time of year, those dependents can save you money on your taxes. And now the rules about who qualifies as your dependent have changed to better reflect our society.

Who can you claim as dependent children for income tax purposes?

  • A child must be 19 years of age or younger.
  • Must have lived with you for at least half of the filing year.
  • Temporary absences from the home due to military service, illness, and educational absences from the home such as going off to college are allowed under the residency test.
  • The birth or death of a child is also included as a special circumstance. You may claim the child as long as he lived with you the entire time he was alive during the year.
  • You can claim a permanently disabled child, mentally or physically, of any age.
  • Must not have supplied more than half of his or her own needs.
  • You can claim a full-time student up to the age of 24.

Only one parent can claim a dependent on his or her income tax return but they may both claim tax exemptions associated with a child if the custodial parent agrees. In such a case, there should be a written agreement between the party's detailing who is allowed to claim which deductions.

You may be able to claim a child as a dependent even if the child files a tax return of their own as long as she meets the requirements and does not claim herself on her own tax return.

To claim dependents on your income tax returns, you must file using IRS Form 1040 or IRS Form 1040A. Dependents cannot be claimed if you file using IRS Form 1040EZ.

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