What is a Qualifying Relative?

In our previous blog, we reviewed the rules for claiming a child as a dependent under the qualifying child tests.  What if there is a person in your life that doesn’t meet one of the qualifying child tests but you fully support that person?  Can you still claim this person as a dependent on your tax return?  The answer may be yes under the rules for qualifying relative.

Not a Qualifying Child Test

The person can’t be a qualifying child or be a qualifying child for anybody else.  Click here to read more about qualifying child.  

Member of Household or Relationship Test

The person must meet either one of these tests.  The person has either lived with you for the entire year or is related to you in one of the following ways:

– Child/ Stepchild/ Grandchild
– Son/ Daughter-in-law
– Brother/Sister
– Half Brother/Sister
– Step siblings
– Mother/Father
– Grandparents
– And if related by blood: Aunt, Uncle, Niece, or Nephew.

Gross Income Test

The person’s gross income cannot exceed the exemption amount for the year.  The exemption amount for 2017 is $4,050.

Support Test

You must provide more than half of the person’s financial support throughout the year. Financial support may include cash given, expenses paid on behalf of the child (car insurance, food, housing), college costs paid through loans, and fair rental value of the space used at your home.

Other Rules

There are special cases to the rules stated above.

A person born or died in the year, but lived with you for the rest of the time, may be considered of lived with you for the entire year.

A person is temporarily not living with you due to illness, school, business, military service, or vacation; may be considered to have lived with you the entire year.

The person may be financially supported by multiple people.  In this case, one of you may claim the person as a dependant. You must discuss this among the group and you must have provided at least 10% of the person’s support.

You may be able to claim your spouse as a dependent on your Married Filing Separate tax return.  Your spouse must have earned $0 gross income to qualify as a dependent on your tax return.

IRS. “Personal Exemptions and Dependents.” Publication 17 (2016), Your Federal Income Tax. IRS, n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.