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William Perez

Claiming an Adult Son or Daughter as a Dependent

By September 6, 2010

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Sometimes an adult son or daughter will move in with their parents. Parents will naturally wonder if their son or daughter will qualify as a dependent for tax purposes.

The thing to remember is that there are two categories of dependents under the tax code: qualifying children and qualifying relatives. Which category applies -- and thus whether the adult son or daughter qualifies as a dependent -- will depend on an analysis of these two sets of rules.

In general, if the son or daughter is at least 24 years old, they will likely fall under the category of qualifying relatives. Using that set of rules, the son or daughter will qualify as a dependent for the parents if the son or daughter earns less than their personal exemption amount (currently $3,650). This is called the gross income test. And gross income means all income before any deductions, and includes items such as wages, unemployment or freelancing. In many cases an adult son or daughter living at home will not qualify just based on this income test.

The income test does not apply, however, if the adult son or daughter meets the criteria to be a qualifying child. This includes kids under age 24 who are full-time students. The qualifying child rules also applies to sons and daughters of any age who are permanently disabled.

September 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm
(1) Maria says:

Does a school grant count as income??
I hope not.
Thanx, Maria

September 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm
(2) William Perez says:

Grants and scholarships are non-taxable if used entirely for tuition, fees and books. If the grant money is used for other purposes such as room and board, then that portion is taxable and would thus be included in the meaning of “gross income” for the purpose of determining dependent status.

September 18, 2010 at 10:23 am
(3) Chandler AZ CPA says:

Too often people don’t realize that the gross income test is applicable to a child. They usually just think they automatically qualify.

September 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm
(4) umer says:

if any student is getting a stipend or is sponsered then what

December 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm
(5) Daniel Otto says:

Our 46 year old son has lived with us for the last 1.5 years. His only income is $450/month SS Disablility for clinical depression. Can we claim him as a dependent on 1040?

October 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm
(6) Jimmy says:

Does this mean that based on Section 152 of the code that you can basically claim anybody as a dependent as long as they don’t work and you take care of them?

February 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm
(7) sally says:

Can you claim your 24 year old child if they make $39,000 a year? The child is still living at home, still under your insurance, pays student and car loan, helps out with home expensives.

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