Tax Filing Help
 

Definition of Dependent

The tax laws' definition of a dependent is very important when figuring out what tax filing status a taxpayer can file as and when claiming tax exemptions for a dependent. Many taxpayer mistakenly think that just because he or she has a child who is dependent on him or her, the child is considered a dependent child and tax exemptions are allowed. This is not the case. Tax laws' definition of what a dependent is can be complicated. Below is the definition of a dependent based on the IRS tax laws.

What is the definition of a dependent?

First of all there are two types of dependents according to the IRS tax laws. They are qualifying child and qualifying relative. Below is a chart to help a taxpayer determine if his or her dependent qualifies as either a dependent child or a dependent relative in order for him or her to claim tax exemptions for a dependent.

The questions below apply to the taxpayer who is trying to claim a tax exemption for a dependent as well as his or her spouse if he or she is married and filing jointly.

Can anyone claim you or your spouse (MFJ) as a dependent? Arrow rightYES Unqualified dependent

Married but not filing with spouse

 NO

Is the dependent married and filing jont return? Arrow rightYES Unqualified dependent

Married but not filing with spouse

 NO

Dependent nationality and residency Arrow rightNO Unqualified dependent

Married but not filing with spouse

 YES

If the dependent in question passes all the tests for a dependency above, then the dependent in question could qualify as a qualifying dependent for tax exemptions if the dependent is either a qualifying child or a qualifying relative (even those who do not live with the taxpayer). The next step from here is to check to see if the dependent is a qualifying child or a qualifying relative.