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Who qualifies as a dependent?

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Quick Answer

A dependent of a taxpayer is typically either a child who still lives at home or a relative for whom he provides over half of the necessary financial support. Each dependency exemption claimed is worth a $3,950 deduction as of 2014.

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Full Answer

Children are the most common dependents. A child who lives with the taxpayer can be claimed as a dependent until he is 19 years old. Afterward, he can only be claimed up to age 24 if he is a full-time college student for at least five months of the year. The dependent must be a U.S. citizen and must receive over half of his financial support from the taxpayer. Special rules apply to children of parents who are divorced, separated or living apart.

Relatives may also be claimed as dependants if they meet certain criteria. They must be related to the taxpayer or be a member of the taxpayer's household. This can include descendants of relatives, such as the taxpayer's grandchild. It can also include children of the taxpayer's siblings, in-laws or siblings of the taxpayer's parents. Regardless of relationship, the dependant must not make more than $3,950 as of 2014, and the taxpayer must provide over half of the financial support for the individual.

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