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Residency and Relationship Tests for Qualifying Relatives

Qualifying Relatives must meet residency and relationship tests

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Relationship Test for Qualifying Relatives

To meet the relationship test, the dependent must either
  • be related to the taxpayer is one of the following ways, or
  • live with the taxpayer for an entire year, and the relationship must not violate local laws.

Qualifying Relationships with no residency requirement

The dependent will meet the relationship test for being claimed as a qualifying relative if the dependent is related to the taxpayer in one of the following ways:
  • son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, great grandson or great granddaughter, stepson or stepdaughter, or adopted child,
  • brother or sister,
  • half-brother or half-sister,
  • step-brother or step-sister,
  • mother or father, grandparent, great-grandparent,
  • stepmother or stepfather,
  • nephew or niece,
  • aunt or uncle,
  • son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, or mother-in-law, or
  • foster child who was placed in your custody by court order or by an authorized government agency.

TIPS

  • Qualifying relatives who are related in one of these ways need not live with the taxpayer. As long as you meet the other four tests (gross income, support, citizenship, joint return), you can claim these qualifying relatives as a dependent.

  • Relationships established by marriage do not end with death or divorce. So if you support your mother-in-law, you can claim her as a dependent even if you and your spouse are divorced.

WHAT'S NEW

  • The rules for claiming a foster child changed. Under the old rules, a foster child had to live with you for an entire year before being claimed as a dependent. Now, you can claim a foster child starting with the year that the foster child was placed in your custody.

Qualifying Relationships with a mandatory residency requirement

The dependent will meet the test to be claimed as a qualifying relative if:
  • The person is a member of your household, and
  • The person lives with you for an entire year, and
  • The relationship between you and the dependent does not violate local law.

For example, you may be able to claim cousins, friends, boyfriend or girlfriend, or domestic partner as a dependent under the qualifying relative tests. These qualifying relatives must live with you for an entire year, and must meet all the other criteria for qualifying relatives (gross income, support, citizenship, joint return).

The relationship, however, must not violate local law. For example, if your state prohibits co-habitation with a married person, then you cannot claim that person as your dependent even if you meet the other criteria for claiming a dependent.

TIPS

  • Domestic partners may be claimed as a dependent under the qualifying relative tests.
  • Cousins may be claimed as a dependent under the qualifying relative tests.
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