Taxpayers who take care of or support other people can claim those individuals as dependents on their tax returns under certain conditions, explains the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS recognizes two types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying relatives.
To be a qualifying child, the dependent must have a blood or legal relationship with the taxpayer and be under the age of 19, a full-time student under age 24 or disabled. The child cannot have provided more than half of his own support for the year or file a joint tax return with a spouse. The child must have lived with the taxpayer more than half of the year, except in situations involving divorced, separated or never-married parents, according to IRS Publication 501.
A qualifying relative cannot be the qualifying child of any other taxpayer. He has to have lived with the taxpayer the entire year or be a close relation. The dependent must have had more than half of his support provided by the taxpayer and cannot have more income than the amount of a personal exemption, which is $4,000 for 2015, notes the IRS.