What is the IRS definition of a dependent?


Quick Answer

According to the IRS website, the basic definition of a dependent is a child or a family member who lived with the taxpayer for at least six months of the tax year and for whom the taxpayer has provided at least half of his support. He must also be a legal U.S resident and must not be claimed on the tax forms of any other person.

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Full Answer

TurboTax breaks down these requirements in language that is easy to understand. For a child to qualify, he must be age 19 or younger at the end of the year, a full time student under the age of 24, or permanently disabled. The child must live with the taxpayer for at least half the year, with certain exceptions, and the taxpayer must provide at least half of his support, even if he works.

For a relative to qualify, the requirements are a little different. He must live with the person filing the tax return for the whole year or be on the list of "relatives who do not live with you," which is listed on the IRS site. As with the children, the filer must financially provide at least half of the relative's support and must be the only person to claim him.

There are many exemptions to these rules, so to avoid confusion, the IRS has a simple test that can be taken on its website to help taxpayers determine who qualifies as a dependent.

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