Who Can I Claim as Dependents on my Taxes?

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Claiming dependents is a great way to lower your taxes, but who qualifies as a dependent? What about your spouse, kids, parents or even the family pet?

Claiming dependents on your taxes helps to lower your taxes. It’s a great way to get money back for the expenses of caring for children or other adults.

Each qualifying dependent can reduce your taxable income by $4,050. In order to take that deduction, you have to understand who qualifies as a dependent. That’s what we’re here for!

Is My Spouse a Dependent?

Simply put, you should never claim your spouse as a dependent. It doesn’t matter if your spouse is employed or not, spouses aren’t dependents.

Instead of claiming your spouse as a dependent you should file jointly. When you file jointly you get the exemptions, which would be the same as claiming a dependent.

Are My Children Dependents?

Children can be claimed as dependents. In order for a child to qualify as a dependent they must meet the following requirements:

  • The child must be related to you. They don’t have to be a biological child, but they must be related. Step-children, adopted children, nieces, nephews, brothers or sisters all qualify.
  • Be under the age of 19; there are two exemptions to this. The first exemption is that a dependent can be claimed as child if they are permanently and totally disabled. The second exemption, is if a child is under the age of 24 and going to school for at least 5 months out of the year they can be claimed as a dependent.
  • The child must live with you. Again there are two exemptions. If a child is living with another parent, in the case of divorce, you can still claim them.
  • The child cannot be self-supporting. They must be dependent on you, obviously.

Are My Parents Dependents?

If you are taking care of your parents, then you can claim them as dependents. Your parent don’t have to be living with you in order to be claimed as dependents. If you are financially supporting them then you can claim them.

In order to qualify as a dependent you must pay for at least half your parent’s expenses. If more than one party is supporting the dependents, then you all must decide who is going to claim your parents.

Another requirement is that the dependent’s taxable income must be less than $4,00.

If you are taking care of your in-laws you can claim them as dependents, but only as long as the marriage exists. If the marriage ends by divorce or death then you cannot claim your in-laws.

Can I Claim My Pet as a Dependent?

It doesn’t matter if your dog is your best friend, or a loved member of your family, the tax man doesn’t consider your dog as a dependent.

Despite the fact that your pet is completely dependent on you, the IRS doesn’t allow taxpayers to claim pets as dependents. The rationale behind this rule is that human dependents will eventually become taxpayers, while animals will not.

Claiming dependents is a great way to lower your taxes, but who qualifies as a dependent? What about your spouse, kids, parents or even the family pet?
Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.

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