Tax Filing Help

Relatives Who Do Not Have to Live with Taxpayer

Some taxpayers think that children or relatives can only be considered dependents if they actually lived with them. This is not true. Certain qualifying relatives do not have to live with the taxpayer to qualify him or her for tax exemption. The qualifying relative dependent tests call for one of the two conditions to be satisfied:

  1. the person must be related to the taxpayer
  2. the person must lived with the taxpayer for the entire year as a member of the household (not including spouse) and the relationship does not violate local law.

A spouse can never be considered a dependent of a taxpayer.

The following persons do not have to live with the taxpayer for the entire year to be considered a dependent relative for tax exemption purposes.

  • Child, step child, foster child, grandchild, great grandchild, legally adopted child, etc

  • Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister

  • Parent, grandparent, other direct ancestor (NOT Foster parent)

  • Stepfather, stepmother

  • Brother or sister of taxpayer's father or mother (aunt or uncle)

  • Son or daughter of brother or sister (niece or nephew)

  • Father in law, mother in law, son in law, daughter in law, brother in law, sister in law
Can a cousin be a dependent relative?

A cousin is not a dependent relative by relationship so for a cousin to be claimed as a dependent relative, the cousin has to live with the taxpayer as a member of the household for the entire year. By the tax laws, a cousin is a descendant of a brother or sister of the taxpayer's father or mother and does not qualify under the relationship test.