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Dependent Filing


Many people feel they have “dependents” and that by informing their accountans as such, that will help them with a tax deduction at tax filing time.  While that is true to an extent, many people do not still know the exact definition of what a dependent is, especially with the new Working Family Tax Relief Act of 2004 passed by the Bush Administration. If you are a nonresident alien (F1, H1B, L1, B1, etc.), click here.

Essentially, a dependent is the following:

  1. Qualifying Child, or
  1. Qualifying Relative.

Unless you are part of that small group of taxpayers whose dependent deduction is phased out completely (dependent deductions are phased out at certain income levels by 2% of each $2,500 or $1,250 for married filers by which AGI exceeds thresholds—to be eliminated in 2010.), most likely you will qualify for some dependent deduction if you can satisfy the above two requirements.

The first part of the requirement, Qualifying Child, has only 3 components:

  1. Close Relative (i.e., son, daughter, stepchild, brother sister, stepsibling, or descendant of one of these).
  2. Age Limit (up to age 19 if not a student or up to age 24 if full time student).
  3. Must have the same principal residence as the taxpayer (it’s okay if he/she is away at college for a undergrad/grad degree as that is considered temporary stay).

The second part of the dependent requirement, Qualifying Relative, has actually 6 components:

    • Taxpayer must provide more than 50% of the support for the relative.
    • The relative must have gross income under the exemption amount for the taxable year (exceptions to this component are qualifying children, defined above).
    • Dependent may not file a joint return unless solely to get a full refund of taxes withheld by employer.
    • Dependents may only be residents of U.S., Mexico, or Canada.
    • Dependent may be a blood relative except a cousin.
    • Those dependents who are nonrelatives must live with the taxpayer the whole year.