There are several pieces of information to consider when determining if you can claim a dependent or not. If your child qualifies to be claimed as a dependent, they must pass these four rules first. They are:
- The relationship test - the child must be your biological child, step child, adopted child, foster child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (for example: niece or nephew, or grandson or granddaughter).
- The residence test - this means that the child must have the same residence as you do for more than half of the year.
- The age test:
- the child must be under the age of 19 at the end of the year
- the child must be under the age of 24, BUT has to be a full-time student for at least 5 months out of the year
- the child can be any age, BUT must be totally and permanently disabled
- The support test - the child must have not provided more than half of their own support for the year. This can include things like family assistance, charity gifts, and monetary assistance from family members to claim the dependent.
If the child doesn't meet any of these criteria to be claimed as a dependent, they may qualify to be claimed as a relative, BUT you need to make sure that nobody else can claim them as a dependent first.
Also, if you share joint custody with another person for this child and the child spends equal amount of time at both places, only one person can claim the child and that would be the person with the higher amount of annual income. The non-qualifying parent can claim the child only if the qualifying parent releases their claim to the dependency exemption using form 8332.