When a Relative is a Tax Dependent

Relatives as Dependents

You can  take exemptions for qualifying relatives. 

Rule: A relative does not have to live with you and there is no age requirement.

Support: First, you must be supporting the qualifying relative.

Qualifying Relative: In order to be a qualifying relative, the person must:
  • Have earned less than $3,800 in gross income or unemployment benefits for the year 2012
  • Have received more than half of their support from you. This does not have to be cash payments. It can be food, clothing, shelter, education, medical and dental care, recreation and transportation.  To calculate if the relative meets this test:  add all of your expenses for them; subtract  welfare, food stamps. government benefits and earnings.
  • Be a U.S. resident or citizen, or a resident of Mexico or Canada
  • Not be married filing jointly
Qualifying relatives could be your:


  • child
  • parent
  • sibling
  • stepparent
  • stepsibling
  • half sibling
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • Any in-law: son-, daughter-, mother-, father-, brother- or sister-in-law
Cousins do not count. And aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces only count if they are related to you by blood to one of the married couple if filing jointly

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