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Wendy Reed
Wendy Reed, Enrolled Agent
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 3346
Experience:  15+ years tax preparation and tax advice.
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How long can you claim a child as a dependent

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This depends on whether or not your child meets the dependency requirements as either a qualifying child, or qualifying relative. Theoretically, you could claim your child forever, as long as he or she meets the guidelines. See the following:




Rules for all dependents include:

  • You cannot claim any dependent if you , or your spouse if filing jointly could be claimed by another taxpayer
  • You cannot claim a married person who filed a joint return unless that joint return is filed only for a refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse on separate returns
  • The dependent must be a US citizen, US resident, US national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year


All dependents are either Qualifying Children or Qualifying Relatives.


Qualifying Child:


  • The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, half or step brother or sister, or a descendant of one of them.
  • The child must be under age 19 at the end of the year or under age 24 and a full time student for any part of 5 months of the year, OR, any age and totally and permanently disabled
  • The child must have lived with you for more than ½ the year (exceptions apply)
  • The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year
  • If the child is a qualifying child of more than 1 person, you must be the person entitled to claim the child (tie-breaker rules)


Qualifying Relative:


  • The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of anyone else-Even if the person for whom the child is a qualifying child does not claim that child as a dependent
  • The person must be related to you as a parent, child, sibling or a descendent or ancestor of one of these. Steps, halves, and in-laws count. The end of a marriage does not end this relationship for tax purposes. If the person is not related to you in this manner (such as a cousin or unrelated person), that person has to live with you for the entire year.
  • The person's gross income must be less than the exemption amount ($3300 in 2006, $3400 in 2007)
  • You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year unless a multiple support agreement is in place
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Wendy Rieger's Post: Our son is going to be entering the carpenter apprentice program. He will be attending class but also working in the field. Does this count as class and can we continue to use him as a deduction?

Will he be living with you still?

What is his age and how much will he make?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Wendy Rieger's Post: Yes, he will be living with us and he may gross 6-10 grand. He is be in class 3 weeks every 3-4 months possibly more often if he takes other classes...

If he is under 19, then he will be your dependent "qualifying child" as long as he does not pay more than 1/2 the cost of supporting himself.

If he is between 19 and 23 (not 24 at the end of the tax year) then he can still be a dependent "qualifying child, as long as the school he is attending is an elementary, junion or senior high school, college, university, or technical, trade, or mechanical school--and he attends for at least 5 months of the year as a full time student. HOWEVER--- an on-the-job training course does not count as a school.

From your description, it sounds as if he is not attending a vocational school, but an on the job training program. Therefore, if this is the case, and he is making 6-10 grand per year and over 19, then you cannot claim him as a dependent.

Please let me know if you need any additional clarification.


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