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Learn more about the criteria for two types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying relatives.

Claiming Dependents - Tax Laws for Children and Relatives as Dependents
Being able to claim a dependent on a tax return is tied to a number of related tax benefits. Taxpayers who claim dependents can claim an additional personal exemption for each dependent. Also, taxpayers may be eligible to claim the child tax credit, the child and dependent care tax credit, and the earned income tax credit. Unmarried taxpayers...

Can Two Taxpayers Claim the Same Dependent?
The way the tax laws are written, only one person can claim a dependent on their tax return. Two parents may be able to both claim tax breaks associated with a child, provided the custodial parent agrees. The non-custodial could claim the dependent's personal exemption and the child tax credit. The custodial parent could claim the rest of the child-related tax breaks.

Child Support
Child support is not a tax-deductible expense, and is not considered taxable income for the recipient.

Qualifying Children
A qualifying child must meet four criteria in order to be claimed as a dependent. Learn more about the relationship, age, residency, and support tests, and the tie-breaker rules for when two taxpayers attempt to claim the same dependent.

Qualifying Relatives
Taxpayers may claim a dependent for a person who meets the criteria for a qualifying relative. A dependent is a person who meets either the qualifying child or the qualifying relative definitions. To be claimed as a qualifying relative, the person must meet five criteria.

Residency Requirements for Qualifying Relatives
To be claimed as a qualifying relative, the dependent must meet one of the relationship tests. Some relatives must live with you for an entire year, while other relatives don't have to live with you at all.

Claiming Dependents: Complications in the New Tax Law
Interview with Kathy Burlison, Director of Tax Implementation at H&R Block headquarters. Covers the new uniform definition of a child, and situations in which taxpayers will lose their dependents.

A dependent is someone you take care of. Claiming a person as a dependent on your tax return will increase your personal exemptions, and may help you qualify for other tax benefits.

Audits for Determining Who is Eligible to Claim a Dependent
The IRS automatically audits tax returns where different people have attempted to claim the same dependent. Here's what to do to protect your tax return when the IRS questions whether you are entitled to a dependent.

Tax Deduction for Supporting Someone in Prison? - Questions from Readers
Dear Tax Guide, Can I take a tax deduction for the money I send to my son in prison? You cannot take a tax deduction for money spent on your son. But if your son lived with you for more than 6 months of the year before being incarcerated, you may be eligible to claim him as a dependent.

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