Can you claim a family member as a dependent? (Guide to Claiming Your Dependent Relative)

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Are you stuck trying to figure out how to claim your dependent relative on your taxes?

Many people, like yourself, are curious as to who qualifies as a dependent on a tax return. I get questions like:

  • Can I claim my college students?
  • Is a spouse a dependent?
  • Can I claim my girlfriend on my taxes?

These are just a few of the must common questions asked. On today’s article I will explain who qualifies as a dependent on your taxes this year.

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Who Can I Claim as a Dependent on My Taxes

You may be asking yourself, can I claim my relative as a dependent?

There are four tests that must be met before you can claim a person as your dependent relative.

  1. Did Not Qualify as a Child Test
  2. Member of Your Household or Relationship Test
  3. Gross Income Test
  4. Support Test

Note: There is no age requirement to qualify someone as a relative.

1. Did not Qualify as a Child Test

To meet this test, the relative cannot be your qualifying child or anyone else’s qualifying child.

2. Member of Your Household or Relative Test

To meet this test, your relative must either: Live with you all year as a member of your household OR Be related to you in one of the following ways:

  • Child, stepchild, foster child or descendant of any of them
  • Brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother, or step-sister
  • Father, mother, grandfather, or other direct ancestors, but not a foster parent.
  • Step-father or step-mother
  • Son or daughter of brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister
  • Brother or sister of mother or father, in other words aunt or uncles.
  • Son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.

3. Gross Income Test

To meet this test, you relative’s gross income for the year must be less than $4300 in 2020.

4. Support Test

To meet this test, you must provide more than half of your relative’s total support during the year.

How do I determine if I support my relative?

To determine if you provided your relative with more than half of the year financial support, compare the amount you contributed to the relative with the amount your relative received from any other sources but you.

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Things that can be considered as support includes amount spent to provide:

  • Food
  • Lodging
  • Clothing
  • Education
  • Medical and dental care
  • Recreation
  • Transportation and other similar necessities.

For more information regarding support calculations, please see IRS publication 17.

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Can I claim a relative who was born or died during the year?

If a relative died during the year, but lived with you as a member of your household until death, that relative meets the residency test. The same goes for a child who was born during the year and lived with you as a member of your household for the rest of the year.

Final Thoughts

Have you ever had any issues claiming a relative on your taxes? If so, let me know what tip you would give to others to make the process easier.

I hope this article helped you gain some control of your tax plan this year. Remember not to stress out. Don’t forget to check out Tax Forms page for any additional online tax checklists and forms you may need this year.

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Until the next money adventure, take care!


The Handy Tax Guy Tax Service

Disclaimer Statement: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The Handy Tax Guy makes no absolute representation of the correctness, mistakes, omissions, delays, appropriateness, or legitimacy of any information on this site. **Note: Each client circumstance will vary on a case-by-case basis**

(Original Article Date: September 14, 2017/Updated January 10, 2021)

Nikida Metellus

Nikida Metellus is a financial freedom advocate, author, and the reimagined voice behind, now focused on helping you achieve a debt-free life and financial success. Based in Orlando, Florida, she combines her love for theme parks with actionable financial strategies, offering a unique perspective on balancing fun and finances. As the author of Complete Tax Planning Guide, she has now expanded her expertise to guide you on the road to financial freedom. Co-founder of Bramework and a coffee enthusiast at heart, Nikida is committed to empowering you with practical tips and insights to manage your money wisely. When she's not blogging or exploring Florida's attractions, she enjoys quality time with her husband and two daughters. Welcome to your journey toward a financially free life!