You can Claim a dependent deduction on your U.S. tax return

qualifying dependent
  • by admin
  • February 18, 2021

Can you claim a dependent on your individual income tax return? Well, it depends on your filing status and your relationship with the dependent. In this article, we are going to explore these relationships.


U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien – You can claim on your tax return a “dependent” who can be a qualifying child or a qualifying relative.


Any of the following relatives can be your qualifying child:

  1. Son
  2. Daughter
  3. Stepchild
  4. Foster child
  5. Brother
  6. Sister
  7. Stepbrother
  8. Stepsister
  9. Half brother
  10. Half-sister
  11. A descendant of any of the above (ex: grandchild, niece, or nephew)


If you have a qualifying child, you need to further determine if you meet the following conditions.

  • The child must be below the age of 19 or the child must be below the age of 24 if the child is a student, and the child must be below the age of yours or your spouse’s. The age limit for the child does not apply if he/she is permanently and totally disabled.
  • You lived with the child for more than half of the year. You are considered to live with the child if you were temporarily absent due to illness, education trip, business trip, or vacation.
  • The child must have not self-supported for more than half of the tax year.
  • The child must not be filing a tax return as a joint tax return unless it is filed only to claim tax withholding tax refunds. This situation may come when a married person can be considered your qualifying child. However, if this dependent files a joint return then you can not claim this person as a dependent on your tax return.

 Important: IRS may not allow a claim for your dependent/dependents if the dependent does not have a US Social Security Number or other valid taxpayer identification number by the end of the tax year. If you are expecting to receive the dependent’s social security number after the end of the tax year either you can file your tax return without claiming a dependent and then later amend it or request an extension to file your tax return. 


 Do you have a qualifying relative?


A qualifying relative can be any of the following relatives:

  1.  Your daughter, son, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (ex: your grandchild), or
  2. Your sister, brother, half brother, half-sister, or a son or daughter of any of them (ex: your nephew or niece), or
  3. Your mother, father, or an ancestor or sibling of either of them (ex: your grandfather, grandmother, aunt, or uncle), or
  4. Your stepsister, stepbrother, stepmother, stepfather, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law, or
  5. Any other person who lived with you all years as a member of your household and your relationship did not violate local law and the person is other than your spouse.


If you have a qualifying relative, you need to further determine if you meet the following conditions.


– Your qualifying relative should not be a qualifying child for you or any other taxpayer.

– Your relative must have lived with you in all years as a member of your household unless the relative is your:


  1.  Child, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild). (If you legally adopted a child that is also considered your child.)
  2. Your sister, brother, half-sister, half-brother, stepsister, or stepbrother.
  3. Your mother, father, grandparent, or other direct ancestors, but should not be your foster parent.
  4. Your stepmother or stepfather.
  5. A daughter or son of your brother or sister.
  6. A daughter or son of your half-brother or half-sister.
  7. A sister or brother of your father or mother.
  8. Your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.

Your relative’s gross income must be below $4,300 in the tax year.

– You supported your relative for more than half of his/her total support for the tax year.


You can claim a person as dependent on your tax return if that dependent meets the above conditions. However, you may not be able to claim a dependent on your tax return if you are claimed as dependent by another taxpayer.


Your dependent must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada. However, an exception may apply to certain adopted children.

A dependent is considered as a “Student” if he/she is a full-time student at least for five calendar months in the tax year.


RKB Accounting has expertise in cross-border taxation and has been providing accounting and taxation services for the last fifteen years in Canada and USA. RKB services include incorporating a business on both sides of the border, bookkeeping, sales tax, payroll, and corporate and personal income tax. RKB’s expertise includes cross-border tax planning, long-term tax planning, helping business start-ups, business structure planning, and resolving complex tax matters. RKB a CPA(Delaware), CA(India), and CIA(USA) has over 25 years of experience in accounting and taxation in dealing with various countries in the world.

Disclaimer: Information in the blog/post/article has been presented for a broad and simple understanding. This is not legal advice. RKB Accounting & Tax Services does not accept any liability for its application in any real situations. You need to contact your accountant or us for further information.


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