A qualifying relative is person, regardless of age and who does not necessarily have to be related to you, who meets the five IRS requirements to be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes. The qualifying relative may enable the taxpayer to take advantage of several tax benefits, such as Head of Household, the Earned Income Credit, the Child Care Credit, and the Child Tax Credit.
The five IRS requirements are:
- Citizenship - the person must be a US citizen, US resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
- Not a qualifying child – if the person meets all the requirements of a qualifying child for taxpayer or someone else, cannot be claimed as a qualifying relative.
- Relationship – the person must have lived with taxpayer for the entire year as a household member or must be the taxpayer’s parent, grandparent, child, stepchild (by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling stepsibling, or a descendent of any of these, in-laws, or any other blood relation
- Gross Income – the person must have made less than $4,050 in 2017 ($4,150 for 2018)
- Support – taxpayer must have provided more than half of the person’s total support during the year; any income received but not spent is not counted as part of a person’s support
Special conditions for Qualifying Relative
- Temporary Absences – when a person is away from home due to school, business, medical care, vacation, detention in a juvenile facility, military service, or if they are residing permanently or temporarily in a nursing, they are considered to reside with the taxpayer
- Birth or Death – if a qualifying relative is born or dies during the year they are considered to have resided with the taxpayer all year
- Income Not Used for Support – income a person receives but does not spend
- Multiple Support Agreement – taxpayer and one or more people provided more than half of a person’s support, and the requirements of a Qualifying Relative are met, an agreement must be reached as to which person will receive the exemption since only one taxpayer can get the exemption. Form 2120 (Multiple Support Declaration) should be signed by each of the parties involved and retained by the filing taxpayer.
To determine if someone can be claimed as a qualifying relative, click here to access the IRS Interactive Tool.
For the tax year 2018, personal exemptions are not allowed.
For tax year 2017 and prior years, taxpayer(s) can claim an exemption for themselves, their spouse, and qualifying dependents.