There are a variety of circumstances that dependents may or may not fall into. Each situation can significantly affect the result of the return. Below are descriptions for each situation to help you determine which, if any, of the check-boxes should be marked when you are entering your dependent information into your account.
Check if this person was a FULL-TIME STUDENT:
The IRS defines a full-time student as a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time attendance.
Who does the IRS consider a "student"?- To qualify as a student, the person must be, during some part of each of any 5 calendar months of the year: a full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching faculty, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, OR a student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described in (1), or by a state, county, or local government agency. The 5 calendar months do not have to be consecutive.
What does the IRS require of a "school”? - A school can be an elementary school, junior or senior high school, college, university, or technical, trade, or mechanical school. However, on-the-job training courses, correspondence schools, or schools offering courses only through the Internet does not count as "schools" for the purposes of determining "full-time student" status.
For purposes of the Education Credit- The school must be a higher education institution. Private school does not qualify for this credit.
Check if this person was DISABLED:
To be considered disabled, the person in question must meet BOTH of the following conditions.
- He or she cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition.
- A doctor must determine that the condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year, or that the condition can lead to death.
Check if this qualifying child is NOT YOUR DEPENDENT:
If you are listing a person on your return for the purposes of Earned Income Credit (EIC), but you are not eligible to claim them as a dependent, you would check this box.
Example: John and Mary have a son. John and Mary do not live together. Their son lives with John for the entire year. By court order, as a part of their divorce agreement, Mary and John alternate years claiming their son as a dependent on their returns. It is Mary's year to claim their son as her dependent. However, because he lives with John, their son will be John's qualifying child for the purposes of receiving Earned Income Credit (EIC). John will claim their son on his return for EIC, and Mary will claim their son to receive the exemption for him as her dependent. On John's return, he would list his son's information and check the box indicating "Check if this qualifying child is NOT YOUR DEPENDENT". He is not claiming their son as a dependent, just for the purposes of EIC.
Check if you wish NOT to claim this dependent for Earned Income Credit (EIC) purposes:
If you are claiming a person as a dependent on your return, but they do not meet the tests to be a "qualifying child" for the purposes of receiving Earned Income Credit, you should check this box.
Example: The same circumstances exist as in the example above. On Mary's return, she would list her son's information. However, she would check the box indicating "Check if you wish NOT to claim this dependent for Earned Income Credit (EIC) purposes." She is claiming her son as a dependent. However, because he did not live with her, she cannot claim him as a "qualifying child" for EIC purposes.
Check if this dependent is married
If you are claiming a dependent that got married during the current tax year you will check this box. The dependent must meet all other criteria to be claimed as a dependent.
Generally, if the person is married and files a joint return you cannot claim that person as a dependent on your return. The only situations where it might be possible to claim a married person as a dependent would be if the married individual:
- Does not file a joint return; OR
- Files a joint return only as a Claim of Refund and
- No tax liability would exist for either spouse if they filed separate returns