Tax Tip: Dependents

So your daughter is off to college and you're wondering if you can still claim her as a dependent? Well, a person who would be claimed as your dependent must meet five tests:

  1. Member of Household/Relationship Test -- the person must be a relative or live in your household all year
  2. Joint Return Test -- the person can't file a joint tax return with someone else unless it is only to claim a refund of tax withheld
  3. Citizenship Test -- the person must be:
    • a U.S. citizen, resident or national, or
    • a resident of Canada or Mexico

  4. Gross Income Test -- the person must have less than $2,800 of gross income unless he/she is your child and is:
    • under 19 years of age, or
    • a full-time student (5 months of the year) and under age 24

  5. Support Test -- you must have provided over half the person's total support; this includes food, clothing, shelter, education, medical expenses and recreation

Assuming the person meets these tests, here are a few important points to remember.

  • Be sure to include your dependent's social security number when you file your return.
  • Your dependent will not be able to claim a personal exemption on his/her own tax return if you are able to claim him or her.
  • Depending upon your income and filing status, the exemption amount for your dependent may be phased out.
  • For more information, view IRS Publication 501, "Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information." This publication is also available at your local IRS office, or by mail by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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